Kukah: Men of God who took vow of poverty now enjoy comfortable cars, houses.

Matthew Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto diocese, has criticised church leaders who “enjoy” material things despite vowing to live simple lives.

Bishop Kukah said many Nigerian clerics are known to live lavish lifestyles while millions languish in penury.

He urged his fellow clerics to heed the advice of Jesus Christ, who asked the rich to sell their acquisitions and use the yield to help the poor.

Kukah asked religious leaders to respond to the needs of people and use their personal resources to assist those in dire straits.

Speaking at the second symposium and 50th death anniversary of Archbishop Charles Heery, in Onitsha Anambra state, Kukah said men of God should start practising what they preach.

“In terms of consecration, you profess the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience according to a particular charisma and sharing in a specific mission,” he was quoted to have said.

“God knows what you profess and certainly people know what you profess, but undoubtedly today, people question your way of living it.

“While many people in Nigeria today suffer poverty and want, church leaders and men of God who have taken a public vow of poverty, enjoy at least adequate material well-being and often have very comfortable houses, cars, and top technology in phones and computers and so on.

“To that something different which Jesus asked the rich young man to do, ’sell all we own and give the money to the poor and come follow me‘ is something we religious leaders cannot do because of our many obligations.

“It is something many will not want to do because of the securities it affords us. In terms of mission, it has been said that responding to the needs of the people determines where and how we live as church leaders, such as preaching of the gospel where it is most needed.

“God is asking religious leaders to use not only your personnel, but also your houses, your space, your other resources to be of service to the people in whatever way we can.

“In terms of communion, as church leaders, we say we witness through our lives to the communion of all people where all things are shared and used for the common good. Yet people see so many church leaders in Nigeria today who cannot live in communion with others because of tribalism and other divisions.”