The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria has accepted the apology tendered by Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State over his reference to the Pope while trying to explain the rationale behind his acceptance of the Director General, All Progressive Congress Presidential Campaign Council which attracted condemnations in some quarters.
Governor Lalong was condemned by the Catholic Church and other Christians alike by the inference and consequently tendered an apology to the church to that effect.
The Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Dr Matthew Ishaya Audu, in his homily at 19th the General Assembly of the Archdiocese of Jos held at the St. Louis Parish Jos on Tuesday disclosed that the governor’s apology has been accepted by the Catholic Bishops Conference.
“Your apology is accepted. As you know from our President of the Catholic Bishops Conference, has already accepted your apology and so it goes for all of us. We have accepted it and let’s be sincere,” said the Archbishop.
He said since the Church encourages its members to go into politics, the intention is for him to work at making a difference in his political endeavour in line with the mandate of the church to its members who are in politics.
While assuring him that the church will not disgrace him or allow him to fail, Archbishop Audu asked the governor to advise the ruling party on the need for unity, national integration and carrying all segments of the country along which is the major concern being expressed by Christians on the choice of the President and Vice Presidential Candidate.
He stressed the significance of the Eucharist which he said makes provision for Christians to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and work towards sacrificial service as well as being honest, diligent and kind.
In his address, Governor Lalong reaffirmed his loyalty, commitment and faith in the Catholic Church as well as the desire to always be a good ambassador wherever he finds himself.
Lalong who spoke about the importance of the Eucharist in his life said he continues to draw strength and inspiration from his relationship with God, as well as the teaching and upbringing he has received from the Catholic Church since childhood.
He therefore said the events of the past week relating to his utterance which generated controversy should not be used to judge his love, respect and loyalty to the Catholic Church which strongly teaches forgiveness, tolerance, compassion and repentance.
He said: “When there is unity, love and continuity, we can do better and greater things for the Lord. May I appeal to my colleagues, my brothers and sisters in politics, to take a cue from the example displayed by the Catholic Church by closing ranks and seeing ourselves as God’s workers. That way, we can see Plateau State and Nigeria as God’s field and God’s building where we can all play our roles in fulfilling His purpose.”
Lalong also said his roots as a Catholic have shaped his thinking and enabled him to see governance as a duty to serve the people irrespective of their differences and affiliations. Love, justice, fairness and equity he said are his principal considerations at all times when decisions need to be taken, particularly difficult ones.
“We need this more than before in view of our elections coming up in 2023. I urge the Church to continue to pray for the success of the elections and also encourage the people to participate actively and peacefully. Staying away will only give room for the emergence of bad leaders that may not be suitable for the challenges of nation-building,” he said.
He expressed the appreciation of his Government to the Archbishop and the entire Catholic Archdiocese of Jos for not only partnering with the government in several areas but also offering encouragement, advice and prayers at all times.