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The President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria who is also the current president of one outstanding Archdiocese in the country has sent a heartwarming Easter message encouraging and consoling the suffering masses of this largest African country. In the message, he advised the citizens that Amid Multiple Crimes, they should endeavor to Assimilate Easter’s “enduring message of peace.

Even with the reality of “violent crimes” in Nigeria, Christians in the West African nation need to live in peace, which is the “enduring message” of Easter, Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji of the country’s Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri has said.

In his 2024 Easter Message issued on March 30, Archbishop Iwejuru emphasizes the need to settle conflicts “amicably”.

“As a means of fostering national unity and cohesion, we must choose the pathway to peace by shunning injustice, discrimination, bigotry, and fanaticism, which cause discord, disaffection and disunity,” he says.

The Nigerian Catholic Archbishop, who is the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) underlines the need for Christians in the country to live the gift of the risen Lord, peace.

“We need to imbibe the enduring message of peace which Easter offers us, especially now that we are experiencing many violent crimes in the country,” he says, and emphasizes, “Rather than take to violence, we must learn to settle differences amicably through dialogue, rooted in the spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness.”

“Far from embracing violence as a way of settling our differences, we should hearken to those beautiful words of Isaiah: Beat your sword into plowshares,” the Nigerian Catholic Archbishop says in his 2024 Easter Message titled, “Facing the Future with Hope and Optimism.”

He continues, “As we celebrate Easter, we should realize that Christ’s victory over death, which is also a sign of our own victory over the forces of evil, entails joy and inner peace for believers in Christ.”

“We cannot joyfully celebrate Easter with a heart laden with bitterness and hatred. Therefore, we need to proclaim forgiveness as a way to unity and peace in our families, communities, States, and across the nation,” Archbishop Iwejuru says.

The Local Ordinary of Owerri, who started his Episcopal Ministry in July 1990 as Bishop of Nigeria’s Umuahia Diocese goes on to lament security challenges in Africa’s most populous nation, and the related effects in recent times.

“The general insecurity of life and property across the nation is heightened by the recent hike in the kidnapping of school children for ransom, especially in the Northern part of the country. Consequently, many families have been impoverished and are daily plagued by hardship, hunger, and malnutrition,” he laments.

This state of affairs, the CBCN President says, “is driving many compatriots to feelings of despair, cynicism and apathy. Having had a myriad of shattered dreams and aborted hopes, many of our fellow citizens stare with despondency at a future that appears to promise them little or nothing.”

Despite this “gloomy and cheerless background”, the Nigerian Catholic Archbishop says, “the joyful and heart-warming Easter message resounds: God has raised Jesus to life. He would not allow injustice, oppression, and death to triumph forever. He would not allow his people to die and perish in their helplessness. He desires that Christ and indeed all should have life and have it to the full.”

“Amidst our feeling of despair and disillusionment, Easter has a message of hope, namely: that at the end of every dark tunnel there is some light; that the darkest part of the night is the beginning of dawn,” he says.

The Local Ordinary of Owerri since his installation in June 2022 continues, “This message of hope underscores that even though the forces of evil might seem at times to have the upper hand over the good, on the long run goodness always triumphs over evil.”

“Far from yielding to pessimism and despair, believers in Christ face the future with hope and optimism; and persevere to the end in hard and difficult circumstances,” he emphasizes.

The Catholic Church underlines the need for collaboration, saying, “It is of vital importance to bear in mind that the bright future we hope for will only come about with the cooperation of one and all.”

The President of CBCN goes on to attribute the socio-economic challenges in Nigeria to “personal and collective” crimes and malpractices, which he terms “self-inflicted wounds”.

He says, “We must acknowledge that our socio-economic problems as a nation, in the final analysis, are self-inflicted wounds which have their origins in our personal and collective transgressions reflected in greed, graft, embezzlement, dishonesty, electoral malpractice, ethnocentrism, bigotry, and fanaticism.”

“Easter, which recalls Christ’s victory over sin and the opening of a new pathway of life for humanity, is a call on us, the leaders and the led, to renounce our personal and collective sins, to embrace uprightness of life and to rededicate ourselves to the duty of nation building,” Archbishop Iwejuru says.

To achieve this, he says, there is need for Nigerians to rise “up to our civic responsibilities of being law-abiding and contributing selflessly to the common good to the best of our ability.”

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