▪ urges Christians to jettison neo-paganism and return to God
From Chuks Moses, Awka
The Catholic Bishop of Nnewi, Most Rev Hilary Odilichukwu Okeke has given a ray of hope on the apparent fading fate of the abducted Chibok and Dapchi school girls, in North East Nigeria, particularly Miss Leah Shuaibu who is marking her fifth year in Boko haram captivity.
According to him, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria had formally involved the Holy See, Pope Francis, in the matter. He confirmed the papacy had reached out to President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue. “So, we are not relenting…”, he assured.
Bishop Okeke in an interview with journalists at Easter, took a swipe at some Christians on the seeming rising spate of idol worship and neo-paganism.
The cleric who spoke in his office at the Assumpta Cathedral, Okwuani-Nnewi urged all committed Christians to return to God Almighty and to jettison idolatry in all its ramifications.
In his three-page Easter message titled “New Way of Life with Jesus Christ, risen from the dead”, -the cleric pointed out that “all baptized persons in the Church of Christ should reflect on the new way of life expected of baptized persons…
“Easter, the celebration of the solemnity of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ reminds us of our baptism and of our new way of life…”
Bishop Okeke bemoaned what could be described today as neo-paganism especially among the contemporary Igbo Christians in idol worshipping of gods and goddesses like Edo, Idemmili, Ogwugwu, Ulasi, Ala, Ofala and Udo among others.
He acknowledged that the people had customs, traditions and cultural practices before the coming of Christianity, but noted that most had been refined and all the devilish aspects removed.
He explained that it’s the reason the Church accepts only culture and traditions that have no form of idolatry, insisting that “idolatry is the greatest sin against Christianity”.
On title chasing by Christians, the Catholic Bishop stressed that there was a standard law that any Catholic who wishes to take any title must sign an undertaking that no pagan rituals or idolatrous sacrifices would be involved, or such person would be excommunicated. To him, it would be best for Christians to stay away from such.
Asked if the return to idol worship was not a failure on the part of the Church Okeke responded with an emphatic no. “The Church has not failed, instead it’s the people that have failed in choosing to do what they want. The church teach and cannot force anyone…”, he stressed.
On the renewed killings by the Fulani herdsmen and rising insecurity nationwide, Bishop Okeke said it was really sad, but quickly observed that they had been killing long before the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari and would likely remain even after him; because they seem to believe more in their cows than human beings.