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– The Catholic Church has taken strong measures concerning its priests as the 2019 general elections approach
– The church bars all its priests from public endorsement of politicians
– This follows a controversial statement publicly uttered by Father Mbaka, saying the presidential flag bearers of the APC and PDP may lose the 2019 election
The Catholic Church has reportedly distanced itself from the spiritual director of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, over his perceived politically charged statements. In a viral video on the internet, Mbaka was seen telling the vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi, during the annual harvest and bazaar celebration of the church on Sunday, December 2, that neither the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, nor President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), would win the 2019 presidential election.
Addressing Obi in Igbo, Mbaka said: “(Former) governor, listen, so that we won’t be deceiving God. As you are standing in the presence of these children of God, tell God what you will do for Him… It means you don’t want to do anything for God.
“Let me believe in fear, but this is a political statement. God hates stinginess. What I am saying is not for your pleasure. I am saying what will save your life, otherwise, you and Atiku will fail. The way you and Atiku are moving will end in shame.” However, the director of communications, Catholic Diocese of Enugu, Rev. Fr. Benjamin Achi, in an interview with The Punch, said the diocese was not in support of the cleric’s remarks. When asked if Mbaka was still a member of the diocese, Achi said, “He is.” He, however, noted that it was wrong for priests to make political statements from the pulpit. Achi said: “The diocese is not in support of any priest making political statements. “The church is supposed to be apolitical and the Bishops’ conference has said that repeatedly.
“We are not supposed to make any political statements from the pulpit within the context of Mass, that is, church service. “So, it would be wrong to stand at the pulpit to make any political statements. There is a document issued by the Bishops’ conference to that effect. So, he just spoke on his own, not representing the diocese.” “We are not expected to come out openly to support a particular candidate for any reason. The church law does not accept such a thing.
So, it would be wrong for anybody (priest) to come out and give an endorsement to a particular candidate.” Achi noted that if necessary, disciplinary action against Mbaka would be carried out by the priest’s administrative head. Meanwhile, Nigerian Tribune, giving an update on the development, reports that the leadership of the Catholic Church in Nigeria has barred priests and sundry religious leaders from publicly endorsing politicians as the 2019 general election approaches. In a statement, on Tuesday, December 4, signed by Most Reverend Augustine Akabueze, President and Most Reverend Camillus Umoh, Secretary respectively of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), the church declared that no priest or religious should publicly endorse politicians.
The CBCN said: “We hereby declare that no Catholic clergy or religious should publicly endorse any candidate for political office.”