June 15, 2024
News Nigeria

SUMMARY OF SOME NIGERIAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ 2023 CHRISTMAS MESSAGES

Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze of the Archdiocese of Benin City

Theme: The Lord is with you. Do not be Afraid (Ne Timeas)_

His message begins with the reassurance from the Archangel Gabriel to Mary: “Do not be Afraid.” Emphasizing that these words appear frequently in the Scriptures, he acknowledges the challenges and fears people face in life, ranging from personal disappointments to societal issues like unemployment and inflation. Drawing parallels to Mary’s acceptance of God’s will despite potential difficulties, the Archbishop highlights the significance of Jesus’ names—Saviour and Emmanuel—in dispelling fear. He addresses concerns about the recent declaration on blessings of those in irregular union, asserting the unchangeable nature of the Church’s teaching on marriage while emphasizing its commitment to accompany those in irregular situations. Concluding with a message of hope, +Akubeze encourages facing the new year with confidence in Jesus, the Saviour who is always present.

Archbishop Ignatius A. kaigama of Abuja Archdiocese
Theme: Hold on to Your Faith in God with Great Tenacity_.
While addressing economic inflation, insecurity, poverty, and joblessness, he emphasizes the power of hope to guide through dark times. +Kaigama calls for unity, drawing inspiration from the Christmas spirit to strengthen bonds and overcome challenges. Reflecting on societal issues, including the controversial pastoral blessing for irregular unions, he reassures Catholics of the Church’s stance on traditional marriage. Urging faith, resilience, and calmness, +Kaigama expresses optimism for a brighter future and encourages believers to remain rooted in their faith.

Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins of Lagos Archdiocese
Theme: Let’s Join Hands to Build a Prosperous Nation_
“The prelate, while wishing Nigerians a merry Christmas, also called on members of the political class and all those in positions of authority to lead with the fear of God and put in place policies that will impact positively on the lives of the majority of the people. As Nigerians are being called upon to make sacrifice for the restoration of the nation, he urged government to take the lead by reducing the cost of governance and money spent on matters that do not impact directly on the life of Nigerians such as foreign trips that create a Deja vu feeling in citizens while they had been expecting new ways of doing things” (culled from Fr. Anthony Godonu’s work)

Archbishop Gabriel ‘Leke Abegunrin of Archbishop of Ibadan
In his 2023 Christmas message, emphasizes the significance of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ with a deeper reflection on the world around us. He urges a conscientious approach to Christmas, directing attention to those in need, highlighting hunger, disability, lack of healthcare, and other societal challenges. He encourages a Christlike behaviour, advocating for forgiveness, peace, love, and setting positive examples for the younger generation. He emphasizes the negative impact of social media and calls for sincerity and understanding in social interactions. The message concludes with a wish for the renewal of lives through the love of God and neighbour, emphasizing simplicity, honesty, and humility in following Christ.

Archbishop Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso of Kaduna Archdiocese
In his 2023 Christmas message, , draws inspiration from biblical passages, emphasizing the responsibility of shepherds to care for their flock. He reflects on the Advent season, urging believers to be vigilant in recognizing the presence of God amid challenging circumstances. Ndagoso addresses the socio-economic challenges in Nigeria, expressing concern about poor leadership contributing to despair and high rates of depression and suicide. He emphasizes the need for cooperation, good governance, and accountability to move the country forward. The Archbishop encourages a rebirth of faith and commitment during Christmas, cautioning against recklessness with food resources. Ndagoso concludes with warm wishes for a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Bishop Gerald Musa of Katsina diocese
Theme: Growing in the Knowledge of Christ_
He addresses some of the challenges in Nigeria, particularly the suppression of Christian Religious Knowledge in schools. He advocates for a deeper connection with God through scripture, prayer, and contemplation. Amidst regional insecurity, he calls for collective efforts to address the situation, drawing strength from the belief that God is with us. The message concludes with a prayer for God’s comforting presence, seeking strength, peace, and resilience through the knowledge of Jesus.

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto Diocese
Theme: Time to Reclaim Nigeria’s Greatness_
He reflects on the somber reality in Bethlehem, particularly in Gaza and Palestine, where violence has silenced the usual joyous celebration of Christmas. He vividly describes the destruction, emphasizing the symbolic impact on the Nativity Church’s crib, now buried in rubble. The bishop calls for prayer and reflection in the face of the cross cast over Palestine, urging a collective plea for peace and justice. Shifting focus to Nigeria, he addresses the aftermath of the 2023 elections, emphasizing the need for healing in a nation marked by deep wounds. He asks President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to lead Nigeria towards unity, justice, and the eradication of corruption. He emphasizes the importance of restoring hope, highlighting the difference between happiness and the deep, reflective nature of joy.

Bishop Peter Olukayode Odetoyinbo of Abeokuta Diocese
Theme: Let Us Reawaken Hope in Ourselves and Country_
His Christmas message highlights God’s unwavering love and the call for personal and collective reform. He urges Nigerians to remain hopeful for the nation’s future, despite challenges. The message calls for leaders to match promises with actions, addressing economic hardships and promoting a ‘renewed hope’ agenda. He stresses the need for unity, sacrifice, and a rejection of destructive behaviours, fostering virtues of love, peace, and humility. The bishop concludes by encouraging sharing and generosity during the festive season, invoking God’s love and mercy.

Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo Diocese
Theme: Our Christmas can’t honour God if we fail to feed people with empty stomachs, save others from suffering_
+Badejo emphasizes the need for Nigerians to embody the spirit of Jesus Christ by promoting love, peace, and harmony beyond the Christmas season. He calls for continuous acts of kindness, especially in the face of conflicts, hunger, and suffering. The cleric underscores that the essence of Christmas lies in addressing human discomfort, drawing parallels between Jesus’ mission to save humanity and the responsibility of those celebrating Christmas. +Badejo challenges individuals to follow Jesus’ example by helping those in need, emphasizing that true celebration requires personal efforts to alleviate others’ suffering. He critiques political leaders, urging them to act as statesmen dedicated to serving the nation rather than mere politicians focused on self-interest.

Bishop Michael Elue of Issele-Uku Diocese
Theme: Renewed Hope and Joy_
“In the wake of the present state of hardship and near-hopelessness in our society, especially at this time that it has become very difficult to preach hope to the people, whose hopes have continued to be dashed by the very people they have trusted beyond limit, I still have reasons to bring you this good news as it was delivered by the angel “do not be afraid; I am here to give you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today, a Saviour has been born in David’s town; He is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10-11)”

Thanks for reading

Fr. Okhueleigbe Osemhantie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *