The Bishop of Awka Catholic Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, has joined the rest of the world in congratulating Pope Francis, as he clocks ten years as the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church.
Last Monday, March 13, Pope Francis celebrated the 10th Anniversary of his election to the papacy, with people all over the world taking the opportunity to celebrate his achievements, reports Rev. Fr. Constantine Echichechi Okoli.
Bishop Ezeokafor, congratulating the Holy Father, said, ‘I congratulate Pope Francis on the 10th Anniversary of hisPapacy. I am happy for him for the positive impact he has made in the lives of many people in the world.’
The Bishop described the pope’s last ten years as amazing. According to the Bishop, ‘We see him visit many countries and not long ago he was at Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan. Such visits not only add to the growth of the faith of the people, it equally attests to the Church’s concern for people.
Those visits will even make the Holy Father healthier, more active and very much alive.’
Bishop Ezeokafor remarked that using such pastoral visits as his own unique way of exercising his body and mind was not entirely out of place.
‘In all of these visits, I am touched by both its spiritual and social undertones, especially the social. I see the Holy Father in all of these visits talking about peace – reconciling parties, societies and even individual persons disordered by sin and grief of all kinds. Peace is what the Pope preaches and lives out,’ the Bishop said.
He said that the gentle touch the Pope had for the people was primarily traceable to the background that formed and nurtured the Pope. ‘The Theology of the people which hinges on option for the poor and the people is not a new Theology in the Church, but the Argentinian environment historically embodies that Theology – a theology where the people illumine and unify the different models of the Church.
The Pope is in touch with the people, showing them the face of a merciful and empathetic God and he is an apostle of peace,’ Bishop Ezeokafor said.
The Bishop seized the opportunity to call for prayers for peace over what he described as the looming and thickening cloud of war in the country. He expressed worry over the fate of Christianity in the country, regretting that few people, especially the Christian politicians, seemed to be bothered that religious tolerance and dialogue were neither promoted nor discussed.
‘Man is a religious animal and we cannot be speaking of peace when our faith is denigrated and overlooked. There is no peace and the atmosphere is charging up on daily basis to let loose and expose the false peace we claim to be enjoying,’ Bishop Ezeokafor noted.
Without giving in entirely to despair, the Bishop implored the Pope, whom he described as an apostle of peace, to pray for peace in Nigeria.