By Abuchi Onwumelu
As part of his strong resolve to ensure that funeral expenses in Awka Diocese are reduced to the barest minimum, as well as to instill in the laity the need to embrace befitting living instead of befitting burials, the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, His Lordship Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, has reiterated that only the dead should be cleared and not the entire household or extended family members before the burial of any Awka Diocesan faithful.
Bishop Ezeokafor who stated this at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, described burial as an occasion of mourning, and not for merry-making.
The prelate again expressed great concern over what he explained as the emergence of neo-paganism, saying that young people were returning to idol worship. He urged parents and guardians to bring up their children in the fear and doctrines of God so that when they grew up, they would not depart from it. He emphasized that paganism was pure deceit.
According to him, ‘The Anambra State Burial Law provides that you bury the dead within two months of his demise. You also clear only the dead. It is not stated that one should kill cows or spend huge sums of money on burials.
‘One can kill a cow for his father while alive, not when it is obvious that he died out of loneliness and hunger.
Nigeria is talking of restructuring and if we restructure the laws of the land it will be good for us all.
We need take care of relatives while they are here on earth,’ he said.
The charismatic and influential prelate said there was a dire need for people to adhere strictly to the provisions of the Anambra State Burial Law to avoid frivolous and unwarranted expenses before funeral ceremonies were conducted.
The outspoken cleric said the idea of compelling bereaved families to undertake certain expenditures just to bury the dead was completely absurd as such families, according to him, were made to go through excruciating experiences to meet the demands of burial rites.
The Local Ordinary said a situation where the bereaved was compelled through an obnoxious tradition to kill a cow for his late grandfather or great grandfather before a burial ceremony could be conducted should be abolished because such practices had plunged many families into heavy indebtedness and impoverishment.
The Chief Shepherd of Awka Catholic Diocese said the provisions of the law on the conduct of burial ceremonies in Anambra State were clear as crystal and that people should not be subjected to undue financial pressure just to pay last respects to their loved ones, especially when they did not have the means to carry out such ostentatious ceremonies.