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Catholic Archbishop of Lagos Archdiocese, Most Rev (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins
By Odinaka Uruakpa
The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos Archdiocese, Most Rev (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins has called on Christians and Catholics in particular who have interest in serving the people to participate in politics, so as to make the necessary changes needed in the polity.
Martins gave this charge during the celebration of St. Oscar Romero feast day held at Christ the King Catholic Church, Ilasamaja, Lagos.
The bishop also used the occasion being the celebration of the Laity week to enjoin the leaders of the laity to educate the lay faithful on the importance of politics, as well as encourage them to participate actively in the vocation.
“Catholics should be actively involved in politics and able to cope like any of their counterparts. We are all simply Nigerians, and we have the same level of participation. It is important that there will be preparation and good planning in order to ensure that their participation is meaningful.
“The leaders of the laity need to educate the lay faithful so that they can begin to make their presence felt right from grassroots politics at the ward level. People don’t become presidents just like that; they don’t become governors like that, they begin from the ward”, he said.
While urging Christian politicians to inculcate the values of the gospel in leadership, the bishop noted that it is important for the laity to take the initiative by talking among themselves, educating one another on the Catholic social teachings on the common good and welfare of the people so that those of them who are capable will engage in party politics.
“The laity need to encourage those capable and already understand the social teachings of the church. Eventually it will begin like that with active preparation and well thought out plans are what make things happen politically. The person has it in their blood stream to care for the welfare of others before his own personal welfare just like Christ; that’s just what we need now”, he said.
On his assessment of the just completed elections, Martins advised politicians to shun vote buying, ethnic bias, killing of fellow humans, as well as other faults and short comings that marred the elections which he said should be worked on.
While urging the president to pass the electoral bill presented by the National Assembly to law so the problems will be reduced, the bishop noted that since the country is growing in population, that it is important for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to use the modern day processes, such as electronic voting for elections.
While remindingthose who were elected during the elections to recognize that they are not leaders only of their party, but they have been elected for the common good of everyone, the cleric advised the president to look into the problems pointed out to him in the past which include inequity in appointments and the insecurities that are present in the country.
In her remarks on the occasion, Lady Neta Nwosu, President of SIGNIS Nigeria, Lagos Archdiocese said the association (SIGNIS Nigeria) marked the feast day of St. Oscar Romero, the patron saint of Catholic communicators with the celebration of Holy Mass and unveiling of St. Oscar Romero’s portrait as a symbol of the inauguration of SIGNIS Nigeria, Archdiocese of Lagos.
According to Nwosu, Romero’s sainthood epitomizes concern and values for social justice and respect for human dignity at its core. His teachings and legacy globally provides a strong moral compass.
“St. Oscar Romero is an exemplary Christian witness not just for El Salvador, Central America but the entire world. He was a Catholic Archbishop during a time of great political crisis in El Salvador. Outraged at the violence against the weak and the killing of priests and catechists, he felt the need to assume an attitude of fortitude”, she said.
Revealing that the celebration marks 39 years the priest was killed, Nwosu added that Romero was executed on the Church’s altar while celebrating Mass by a right-wing militia in 1980 after vocally disparaging the military dictatorship then in power.
“The revolutionary government junta of El Salvador, which was in power from 1979 to 1982, frequently engaged in mass murder and torture of its citizens. A day before his assassination, he gave a sermon condemning the dictatorship’s violence, telling his parishioners, many of whom had been conscripted by the military junta, that “no soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God.
“Romero is an advocate of the Latin American school of thought known as liberation theology. Influenced by Marxist thought, liberation theology sees the mission of the Church as not only saving souls for Christ, but also dismantling oppressive and exploitative power structures, bringing the kingdom of God to earth”, she said.
She said SIGNIS chose Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero as its patron saint because of his exemplary dedication and courage in his ceaseless defense of the poor and oppressed.
“Romero stands as an example for all communicators, as one who lived the values he professed and was willing to give his life rather than be silent in the face of injustice.
“SIGNIS Nigeria, Lagos Archdiocese made history on Monday, January 21, 2019, when it emerged as the first Archdiocesan/Diocesan body of SIGNIS in Nigeria”, she said.
SIGNIS is a world Catholic association of communication professionals in Print, Radio, Television, Cinema, Video, Social media, Media education and New technology.