By PJ Usanga
The Emeritus Archbishop of Abuja, His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan has warned against the use of the Bible, whether the old or new testament to justify any acts of killing. He emphasized that such justification, amounts to crime against humanity and against God himself.
Cardinal Onaiyekan, stated this in his keynote address, titled: “War and peace in the Bible, what message for the ongoing Gaza tragedy,” at the opening ceremony for the 16th annual conference of the Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria (CABAN), held at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) Abuja, on Wednesday, November 15, 2023. He further observed that in the midst of the tragedy in Israel, some religious leaders have turned the obvious sad human tragedy into a religious game.
“Some Muslim leaders claim that what is happening is an attack against Muslims, forgetting that there are Palestinian Christians in Gaza who are being bombed and whose ancestral homes and churches have turned to rumbles. Then on the other hand, as some misguided Christian fanatics, presume that in the Israeli-Arab standoff, the Christians have to be on the side of the state of Israel against the Arabs, not knowing that the few, but significant, often neglected and ancient indigenous Christians in this crises situation are to be found mainly among the Palestinian Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank, not among the Jews of Israel.”
The Prince of the Church who expressed great concern and fear for the millions of people living in poor and weak nations, noted that the 21st century world, ought to have moved beyond the logic of ‘might is right.’
While admonishing the Bible experts that the theme for the conference should draw their attention to the various wars and crisis going on in the nation today, the Prelate, insisted that they should never forget the horrible and hostile activities going on in the land of the Bible (Israel), which has claimed the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children.
“The mass and social media are full of vivid images in real time of the tragedy on course, with no sign of stopping any time soon. The famous “International community” looks on in self-imposed impotence as the disproportionately militarily superior Israeli Defence Force, the IDF, keeps pounding the thickly populated Gaza open prison with tons of bombs everywhere, not sparing mosques or churches, hospitals or refugee camps.”
Speaking on behalf of the Archbishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, the Auxiliary Bishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Anselm Umoren in his welcome speech, welcomed all participants to the city of Abuja, and also noted that until the world comes to the realization, that war can never produce any positive outcome, there can never be peace. He further emphasized that if Israel and Palestine do not come to a round table and dialogue, they will never have peace.
While expressing confidence that the outcome of the CABAN conference will provide a template on how to establish a lasting peace in the world today, Bishop Umoren disclosed that the world economy is a war economy, because some mischievous leaders and people are benefiting monetarily and otherwise from the on-going wars across the globe.
“The world economy is a war economy. This is because, as the war is going on, people are making money from it through the supply of weapons and other ammunitions. These are things I expect this conference to talk about and we hope that at the end, your deliberations will provide a template on how we can go about this.”
As part of the activities at the opening ceremony, the volume 14 of the CABAN Acts, titled: “The Bible on ministries and ministers”, was officially presented and launched, alongside other presentations from individuals and groups.
The 16th annual conference of CABAN which officially commenced on Wednesday, November 15, and rounded off with a closing Mass on Friday, November 17, 2023. It had in attendance over 40 registered participants including new members. Besides the Holy Mass and Eucharistic adoration, the conference also witness 28 paper presentations, bordering on the theme of the conference.