Okogie Warns Against Religious Politics
Sept 03, 2005
Archbishop of Lagos, Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie, weekend warned against the divisive tendencies of religious politics, but urged the country's political leaders to behave responsibly to avert an imminent crisis in the country.
This Day (Lagos, August 14, 2005) Delivering a homily at the priestly ordination of Rev. Peter Babatunde Awo-Bolaji at St. Joseph Cathedral, Ilorin, Kwara State, Okogie told politicians to stop playing politics with religion.
The Catholic cleric, who said his charge was informed by allegations that Christians especially Catholics, were being denied of the right of professing their religion and holding public offices in some parts of the country, said it was unfortunate that such thing was happening in any part of the country.
"That is quite unfortunate in a country, where the authorities keep on telling everyone that we are all one and that we should all try to be one in spite of our religious and ethnic differences," he said.
He said there was no way the country could remain one when "adherents of a particular religion are being singled out for persecution and denial of their fundamental rights as citizens of this country."
Okogie said if the trend is not checked, it could plunge the country into a large-scale destruction that the country might not be able to curtail.
"History has shown that such conflict can be most destructive and the most difficult to stop when it begins. Our political leaders owe it a sacred duty to all Nigerians to spare that act of calamity. May that kind of calamity not befall this nation.
"For your own part my dear brothers and sisters, I urge you to stand firm. Do not allow yourselves to be intimidated by anyone. This country belongs to all of us. We have no other place that you can call your own. Therefore, you are not going anywhere, let them do anything they like, your home is your home, you will remain here and you will hold firm that your right to profess and practice your religion without threat or hindrance by the grace of God," he said.
He said apart from the fact that such rights were guaranteed by the nation's constitution, it was also enshrined in both the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights in which Nigeria has signed to uphold.
"Therefore our political leaders cannot come home to deny the rights they have subscribe to on the world page."
He sermonised the newly ordained priest to allow his ordination to bear spiritual fruits and avoid those things that could tarnish his image and that of the church.
He said priesthood was not a place to pursue worldly agenda, or to cultivate dubious truancy or seek cheap popularity; rather, Okogie said the priesthood "is a life of selfless service to humanity."
"You will be popular because you are a priest but please do not run after it,"
He said many priests had failed in their responsibility because of their inability to match their belief with actions.
He urged the congregation to always pray for their priests adding that it was through such prayers that they could succeed.
The Catholic Bishop of the diocese, Bishop Ayo-Maria Atoyebi and some priests, assisted Okogie at the ordination mass.