John Cardinal Onaiyekan
John Cardinal Onaiyekan
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Silence in face of social injustice, a crime – Cardinal Onaiyekan

Emeritus Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan has said that silence in the face of social injustice is a crime against the gospel of Christ and the nation.

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He stated this in Abuja at the inauguration of the Catholic Social Teaching (CST), programme for the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), and agencies of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the event also witnessed the graduation ceremony of the trainers of the CST programme.

Onaiyekan said, that beyond evangelism, the Church must inculcate communication on justice and peace, all encapsulated in its social teachings.

He said the belief was the reason why the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria continually urged the government to fulfil its responsibilities and address the people’s needs.

He explained that CST provided a moral compass for living, functioning, and flourishing in society, making it central to evangelisation.

The Cardinal congratulated the graduands, urged them to view CST as essential for service and challenged them to deploy their knowledge to spreading the gospel.

According to the Cardinal, the CST is meant to empower both priests and laypeople to know their rights and speak against injustices in society.

Speaking, Rev. Fr. Uche Obodoechina, the Director, Dept. of Church and Society, said the programme was designed to equip the staffers of the Bishops’ agencies with comprehensive knowledge on CST.

“This initiative has been made possible by the wisdom of the Bishops Conference, ensuring that the teaching and learning of CST by the staff of the bishops’ agencies takes place at the secretariat.

“The next stage is to go into action. We will divide the staffers here into various classes and assign them to teachers.

Over the next two weeks, we will conduct the programmes every Friday until they graduate,” he said.

Obodoechina, the Executive Secretary of the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria (CCFN), also emphasised the significance of social teachings.

He reiterated the commitment to continue the CST education programme, fostering a deeper understanding of social justice and the Church’s role in society.

“We are creating a ripple effect of knowledge and awareness that will extend far beyond the secretariat, impacting communities and society at large,” he added..

n his keynote address, Prof. Hyacinth Ichoku, the Vice Chancellor of Veritas University, Bwari, Abuja, emphasized that everyone, regardless of status, has something to contribute to society.

He noted that CST, a hidden treasure of the Church, will address various social concerns, including politics, healthcare, climate change, education, and social inequalities.

Ichoku expressed satisfaction with Veritas University’s collaboration with CRS and CBCN to spread the message.

In a valedictory speech, Mr Joe Nkamuke, who spoke on behalf of the graduands,  assured of their commitment to spreading the CST knowledge they have gained.

“We promise to open the Pandora’s box for others to see,” he said.

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He expressed gratitude to the programme’s organisers and reaffirmed their dedication to promoting CST principles in society.

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