Catholic Church Bishops Beg Forgiveness From Paedophilia Victims

French bishops pleaded for forgiveness Monday for the “guilty silence” of the Catholic Church following months of damaging revelations over the sexual abuse of children by priests. The church has been rocked by allegations that the Archbishop of Lyon, Philippe Barbarin, covered up the abuse of scouts and failed to remove a priest despite being aware he had sexually abused the boys a quarter of a century ago.

The scandal was the worst to hit the Church in France since 2001, when a bishop was given a three-month suspended jail sentence for failing to inform authorities about a paedophile priest.

Barbarin, who has protested his innocence, remains in his post, but the scandal has tarnished the image of one of the church’s most media-friendly figures.

Archbishop of Paris Andre Vingt-Trois told worshippers at a “time for prayer and penitence” during the bishops’ autumn conference in the southwestern pilgrimage town of Lourdes on Monday that the Church had failed in its duty to victims of abuse.

“We lacked mercy… we did not listen to these victims in the way that they expected us to (and) we lacked the courage to take the measures that were needed,” the archbishop said.

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IPOB’s Threat Forces Bishops To Flee Anambra

The five- day standing committee of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, ended abruptly in Awka Wednesday following the sit-at-home threat by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
The meeting, attended by 170 Bishops from all the Dioceses in the country, was the highest decision-making gathering of the church and would have ended on Friday.

According to the IPOB threat, all markets, banks and other institutions would be shut and movement restricted in the entire South East geo-political zone.

There were visible signs Wedenesday in the state of security beef up in various parts of the state.

Primate of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Nicolas Okoh, who expressed concern over the IPOB order, had earlier pleaded with the group to allow the Bishops leave the state, arguing that the order would adversely affect their departure if carried out.

He said: “IPOB threatened to shut down markets and other institutions and restrict movement in the entire South East. We are not delving into the reasons for their agitation, but we are asking them to wait until we leave Awka on Friday.

“ If they go ahead to carry out that order, we may be trapped in Anambra as the Niger Bridge is the only exit route from Anambra State for most of the Bishops. So, people should help us beg them to allow us to go.”

Though Wednesday was the official opening day for the meeting, the Bishops decided to leave the state immediately so as not to be caught in the web of IPOB planned Friday programme.

One of the Bishops from the Northern part of the country said “We are human and so we had to put our heads together and that is why we decided to cut short the conference.

“That is the most ideal thing to do in the circumstance. I will leave this evening and most others will do same. Those who cannot make it today (yesterday) will do so early tomorrow. There is no need waiting; it doesn’t make sense.”

Following the decision, the Bishops hurriedly issued a statement appealing to the Niger Delta militants to stop the bombing of oil facilities in their region in the interest of the country.

They also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to convene a roundtable meeting between government and the agitators in order to address their grievances.

They, however, reminded the militants that shutting down the economy of the country would not do anybody any good.

Delivering his address at the meeting earlier, the Primate appealed to the federal government to disarm the Fulani herdsmen who, he noted, had murdered the peace of the country.

His address read in part: “The Standing Committee wishes to make a passionate appeal to the militants to spare our economy and stop the bombing of oil facilities.

“Shutting down the economy is like pulling down the roofs with all of us inside; nobody will escape the negative impact. We equally call on those who can reach them to join in this appeal for the greater good of all.

“The presence of herdsmen in our countryside is not new, they have always been around. What is, however, new are the unprovoked attacks on their host communities and sometimes saying that cow is missing.

“They lay ambush and waylay people going to their farms, rape women and destroy farmlands; and their victims are at their mercy because they are armed.

“We call on the federal government to immediately disarm these people to return Nigeria to a state of peace.”

“Our roads are in bad condition all across the country. Since our major means of transport is road, we call on the federal government to give the required attention to the roads to reduce the inconveniences, accidents and deaths.

“Airlines operating in the country are going through difficult times, some have grounded operations. No doubt, we need them.

“We therefore call on the federal government to expedite action on floating the national carrier or rejuvenate the private ones to enable them perform better.

“Further in this area is the persistent scarcity of aviation fuel which has troubled the country, disrupted many programmes, including those of government and private.

“We call on government to solve the problem of aviation fuel permanently so that people can move about their businesses with less difficulty within the country.”

Okoh commended Governor Willie Obiano for promoting religious harmony in the state, as well as prompt payment of workers’ salaries at a time many states were unable to do so.

He also congratulated the governor and the people of the state on the 25th anniversary of the creation of the state, assuring that the bond between the church and the state government would continue to grow stronger.

“I thank the governor because he always identifies with us. The religious climate in Anambra is now tension -free. He does not discriminate in his appointments and we are grateful to him.

“We heard that he is one of the few governors that pay salaries and we say, please don’t relent because the church depends on the generosity of the members for the execution of its projects”, the Primate further said.

Vatican Appoints Kukah Member Of King Abdulaziz Inter-Religious Dialogue Centre In Vienna

The Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, has been appointed a member of the Abdullahi Ibn Abdulaziz International Council for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue Advisory Board with official headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

A statement signed by the director of Social Communication, Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Fr. Onuh Ladi Sixtus, made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday, said by the appointment, Bishop Kukah will represent Africa and serve along with other Catholic Bishops representing Asia, Europe, Middle East and the United States of America as the official Vatican representatives in the council.

The council is made up of members from the various religious traditions of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, among others.

The statement added that the role of the advisory forum is to support the centre in achieving its vision and mission anchored on the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

‘’The forum believes that these equal and inalienable rights are the foundation for freedom, justice and peace in the world,’’ it said.

Responding to his appointment, Kukah expressed gratitude to the Holy See, stating that the appointment was coming at a period of great trials and opportunities for dialogue for Nigeria in particular and Africa in general.

He was further quoted as saying that he believes that this initiative is a wake-up call for both Christians and Muslims in Nigeria to take up the challenge of genuine, truthful dialogue for the development of our nation.

The Mandate of the council is to promote the use of dialogue globally to prevent and resolve conflict, to enhance understanding and cooperation with structures designed to foster dialogue among people of different faiths and cultures to bridge animosities, reduce fear and instill mutual respect.

The council is made up of three founding states; Saudi Arabia, Spain and Austria, with the Holy See serving as a founding observer. The appointment to the council is for a period of four years.

Recall that Bishop Kukah is a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Vatican City and chairman of both the Committees for Dialogue for the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria and the Regional Episcopal Conferences of West Africa, RECOWA