We’ll rejoin CAN “within weeks” —Catholic Bishops clear the air

Posted by News Express | 24 January 2013 | 4,657 times

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The heat generated by the news of the pullout of the Catholic Church from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) may be unnecessary afterall. Catholics are still very much part of CAN, according to the Director Communication, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Ralph Madu.

In an interview he granted the authoritative Lagos-based Guardian, Madu emphatically declared that CBCN did not pull out of CAN, explaining that the body was only trying to sort out some issues with the association.

He said that CBCN only withdrew temporarily from CAN, which will only last for few weeks, adding that there was no squabble between the two religious bodies.

Madu did not disclose the issues at stake, asking: “How can we pull out of CAN? We are just trying to iron out some issues with them, which are not palatable to us and it’s only going to last for few weeks.”

“We will always be in support of the national body; some of our bishops are heading CAN in some states,” he added.

News Express reports that the purported withdrawal from CAN by the Catholic Church has dominated discourse in the past two days following a statement Tuesday made by the Diocesan Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta, Monsignor Christopher Ajala, who told newsmen that the Catholic Church has suspended its activities in CAN because it is too close to government.

Speaking at a press conference in the capital of Ogun State, South-West Nigeria, organised to mark the 15th anniversary of the diocese, Ajala claimed that CAN, under the leadership of Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, is now moving in a different direction from its laid down objectives.

“The Catholic Church took their stand before the purchase or the aircraft was donated to him. But what the Catholic Bishops Conference is complaining about is about the way they are running the national CAN now that is not meeting the objectives and the goals of CAN and the forefathers of CAN,” he said.

“CAN is now being run as part of the government and we said no. Because they (government) will dictate to us what to do and they will not take our advice seriously. The Catholic Church decided to withdraw from the activities of CAN at national level; we are still part of the state. We made our stand clear in November, last year, and by December, the man bought a jet. I don’t know how he got it but the president was there on that day the jet was delivered to him.

“So, what we are saying is that our religious leaders should be honest, upright and they should also be the conscience of this nation. If you are bought, the masses of this country are finished. If you can use money to buy our religious leaders, then there is no hope for the common man. That is the Catholic Church’s stand. We are supposed to speak for the people to correct the wrongs in the society and assist every government to know the will of God for them and we still stand by that.”

Ajala’s claims however attracted swift response from CAN, which accused Catholics of harbouring grudges over Pastor Oritsejafor’s defeat of their candidate to become CAN President.

“There are some certain elements in the leadership of CAN led by Cardinal John Onaiyekan because he lost CAN Presidency to Oritsejafor who has a lot of achievements,” the Public Relations Officer of the 19 Northern States of CAN and Abuja, Mr. Sunny Oibe, said yesterday in an interview with journalists in Abuja.”

“There is no need for anybody to lose sleep over the threat by Catholics to pull out of CAN because without them CAN will still continue. The constitution of CAN makes provision that membership can be terminated by any group that is misbehaving or any group can also terminate their membership,” he added, asking: “Why is it that when Catholics were in the leadership of CAN, every bloc supported them, but now because power has changed hands, they are threatening to pull out and causing confusion?”

•Photo: CAN President Ayo Oritsejafor is accused of leading the association in the wrong direction.

Source: News Express

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