- ‘Church Can Regulate Its Affairs Without Govt’s Interference’
• ‘CAN Oversees What Goes On In The Church, While PFN Is Also
There To Attend To Anything Concerning Its Body’
Since the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, named a national overseer for the church, immense ripples have been generated. The change of guards at the national level, was done in compliance “with the new legal requirements set up by the Financial Regulations Council (FRC) for all registered churches, mosques, and civil society organisations. Among other things, the FRC code stipulates that heads of non-profit organisations like churches now have a maximum period of 20 years to lead their organisations while in retirement.” Since the change in the national hierarchy of the RCCG, even though government has indicated a repeal or amendment of the controversial code, many are still wondering aloud whether the church should be regulated by the State in whatever form? CHRIS IREKAMBA and ISAAC TAIWO report.
‘Leave Regulation Of Church In The Hands Of Those Called To Manage Spiritual Assignment’
(His Grace, Most Rev. Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, Primate, The African Church/President, Christian Council of Nigeria)
THE church and the state are two different organs; one is “theocracy” while the other is “democracy.” The church is spiritual, while the state is secular. Nevertheless, the church as a spiritual organism has a vital role to play in the state. Religion is essential to a vibrant and democratic society. Its instruction and beliefs remain today, the livelihood of society’s moral ethos. Not only does religion teach virtue, it catalyses moral action, and that is why religion is inculcated into a child (who is part of a society and state) from his/her youngest years. They are also taught to voluntarily obey the law, respect other people’s property, and not steal them. Children are also taught never to lie, and to respect the life and freedom of others, the same as their own.
Religious liberty boosts society’s socio-economic progress and reduces violent conflicts. Both religion and religious freedom contribute to a more peaceful, stable and charitable society. As a result, societies are more likely to flourish when citizens have the freedom to voice their deepest beliefs.
The crux of the matter is, who are those controlling the state? Do they have the right spiritual enlightenment to control the church? How far have they gone in delivering the dividends of good governance to the citizens? Can error correct error? This is where I want to urge the church not to bastardise their noble God-given role. Spiritual assignment should be left for those who are truly called, while the adulteration that crept into the church, which brought about this controversy to the kingdom should be exterminated.
‘Church Is Spiritual And Its Head Is God’
(Baba Aladura, Elder Israel Akinadewo, Prelate/Supreme Head, Motailatu Church, Cherubim and Seraphim Worldwide (MCCSW)
MY submission is that the church is spiritual with God Almighty as its head. So, government wanting to regulate the affairs of the church can only be interpreted to mean that government wants to take the position of the head of the church, and then dictate to God, which is impossible.
The church can only be rightly regulated by God, who instituted it. Whenever anything goes wrong in the church, it is also God who corrects it with His infinite wisdom.
The government cannot understand the things of God because matters concerning the church are spiritual, and can only be understood and addressed by God, who established His church.
Again, the church has its umbrella bodies that can rightly look into the affairs and address any problem within. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) oversees what goes on in the church, while the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) is also there to attend to anything concerning its body.
‘Church Is Not A Financial Institution That Should Be Controlled By Govt’
(Cardinal Anthony OlubunmiOkogie Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos Archdiocese)
ON whether the church should be regulated by the state, it should be noted that the church is the house of the people of God. The church is not a financial institution that is controlled by the government.
It is true that some churches go beyond what is supposed to be the limit, or the boundary of the church, and that is why they have problems. Yet, this does not call for government taking over the affairs of the church, or usurping God’s position.
The church is not set up for money-making, but is meant for spiritual matters. Every church also has a leader that presides over its affairs and that should suffice.
The divine aspect is greater than the issue of money.
Anthony Cardinal Okogie
‘Church Is A Different Entity From The State’
(His Eminence, Dr. Samuel ‘EmekaUche, Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria)
AS to whether the church should be regulated by the state, it is not expected of the government to meddle into the affairs of the church because the church is a different entity.
The church is a non-profit organisation. When it even comes to the issue of taxation, it is not expected of the government to start thinking of taxing the church because doing that would tantamount to double taxation. Members of the church pay tax before giving to God what is due to Him.
Problems of the church are internal problems and the government has no business thinking it has the responsibility of correcting what is going on in the church.
The church also has a constitution, which guides it and this rests the case on whether the state should regulate the church. Even if it is discovered that, the church is doing something wrong.
‘Govt Has No Business Regulating Affairs Of The Church’
(His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos)
IT must be admitted that the church has its own structure and how it must be run. There is distinction between the government and the church as far as the issue of control is concerned.
The government, therefore, has no business in regulating the affairs of the church. It is understandable if there is any issue and the church decides to go to the government or to the court for adjudication.
It is, however, not the business of the government to take over the responsibility of deliberating or commenting on any issue concerning the church.
There is freedom of worship and this must be respected by the government. We know that the church operates within the system of the government, and the fact that the church is not expected to operate against the constitution (of the government), yet it is not the government’s responsibility to interfere in the affairs of the church.
The church can regulate its affairs and put right anything that is wrong within the body.
Archbishop Adewale Martins
‘Church Leadership Is Capable Of Handling Its Affairs’
(Archbishop Jacob Akpiri JP, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN/General Overseer of Christian Holy Ghost Bible Church, Ovom, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State)
LET me tell you why government or any other person cannot regulate the church. You can’t regulate God and succeed. One, the church has its leadership, for instance, I am the chairman of CAN in Bayelsa State, and if any church is erring it is our duty to caution such erring ones among us and to instruct them on what to do to make amends.
It is the church that can regulate how long a leader should stay in office and not the government. It is the church that should correct its members if that is the basis for government to regulate the church. The church leadership is there to handle the affairs of the church.
For instance, when there was a case between some bishops, what we did was to invite them, look at the case dispassionately, and rebuked those that needed to be rebuked. This is the right thing to do as churches like the Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, and Methodist Church have good leadership structures.
Apart from that, we also have the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN), which oversees the Baptist, Anglican and Methodist. We have the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, CSN, which oversees Catholic churches; we have Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (CPFN) and Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), which comprises all Christ Apostolic Churches, the Pentecostal churches… We have also the Organisation of African Instituted Churches, (OAIC), which is made up of all the white garments churches. We also have TEKAN and ECWA fellowships. These bodies have heads and so we are well-organised. It is not government that should regulate us.
NO: Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo
President Muhammadu Buhari is currently under intense pressure to stop his administration’s ongoing anti-corruption war. We get regular messages from some Nigerian elite saying ‘cool down.’
It is a very strange morality the position of those putting pressure on the government is that it (corruption) is not a big deal. Those in that category have been advising the government that it should merely ask the looters of public treasury to return the money and go free.
Despite the pressure, the present administration will not relent in the anti-corruption fi ght. Contrary to the argument of the elite, a new set of Nigerians, who would not compromise their values but would maintain a sense of right and wrong, is emerging.
The man on the street is very clear; so whatever some of these elites say, we shall keep our focus on the masses who voted for us.
It was unacceptable that in the last 16 years, there was not a single Federal Government completed road or rail project. …costs of projects were often infl ated as people, entrusted with public trust, struggled to enrich themselves at the expense of the people.
It was the same inordinate desire for personal enrichment that explained why money meant to procure arms was distributed among persons at a time when the territorial integrity of the nation was being attacked.
The insurgency has gone on for six years because government could not adequately equip the military. The present administration has no other agenda but the progress of the country.
Mr President and I, are extremely focussed on what we need to do. We will focus on critical things, infrastructure and social investments.
NO: Founder and General Overseer of the Household of God Church, Pastor Chris Okotie
More than at any time in our history, we need discipline in the armed forces. And, thank God we have an ex-general, who is an epitome of discipline and transparency, in power.
I urge Nigerians to support his anti-corruption campaign which aims to rid this country of PDP’s legacy of a government of the corrupt, by the corrupt, and for the corrupt.
Yes: Bishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie
He (Buhari) must retool, refocus and aggressively face the social, economic (fiscal and monetary) problems we have head on, without letting the anti-corruption drive look like a political distraction.
A snail-paced and disordered methodology in governance, his apparent disdain for judicial authorities and decisions, a lost-today-and-found tomorrow 2016 Budget debacle, and a rather rudderless and confused Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), with an unclear monetary policy strategy inevitably increasing the economic uncertainties being faced by Nigerians, have set alarm bells ringing in my mind and in the minds of many discerning Nigerians.
“Indeed, his perceived discordant relationship with the leadership of the Legislature has many naysayers chuckling and remarking that President Buhari’s government is heading into his comfort zone, a one man show.”
Brother Godwin Ifeacho, Chairman, Executive Board, God’s Kingdom Society, GKS, Warri, Delta State.
Eating the flesh of Jesus and drinking His blood amounts to saying that the believer is committing cannibalism. To drink any kind of blood, even that of beasts, is a sin. And Christians are warned to “abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood”.
Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Isaac Nwaobia, Bishop of the Diocese of Isiala Ngwa South, Anglican Communion, Abia State.
THE Holy Communion is a very important aspect of worship in the Anglican Communion because through it, we commemorate, celebrate and remember the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary.
We usually observe it during Christmas, New Year and the Easter period. It is also observed when there is a priest.
His Grace, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of Lagos.
THE message of Christ in the scriptures concerning this issue is very clear. He stated that it should be done in His memory. We believe that when we receive the Holy Communion, we are receiving Christ Himself under the appearances of bread and wine. And that it is the body, soul and divinity that we thereby receive.
So, in the Catholic Church, people are prepared to go through a process of formation before they are able to receive the Holy Eucharist. It is also important that the individual is in a state of grace, which means that s/he is first of all in communion with the church and also with God. That s/he is not in any way living in a grievous sin that can separate him/her from God. So, the Holy Communion when received is a sign of unity with God and others in the church.
Mass is celebrated everyday and during this period, the Holy Eucharist is given to people, as they go forward to receive the Holy Communion, which is the body and blood of Christ. Often times, the Catholic also believes that anyone who is able to receive the body and blood of Christ has to be in communion with the church, which is to say that the one who receives the Holy Communion is not only receiving the body and blood of Christ, s/he is also expressing the belief of the church, as a body.
Secondly, that s/he accepts the Holy Father the Pope, as head of the church, accepts the sacrament and is ready to live by the teachings of the church, as regards morals and doctrines. All these form what makes a person qualified, as it were, to receive
Holy Communion either everyday or on Sundays.
Image credit: Faberspirituality
Bishop Oliver Doeme, Catholic Bishop of Maiduguri Diocese
“The West should bring in security – land forces to contain and beat back Boko Haram. A concerted military campaign is needed. Most of the territories in the Diocese of Maiduguri are now controlled by Boko Haram.
The group has destroyed 50 Churches, and many more churches have been deserted. Of the diocese’s 46 priests, 20 have been displaced, many to the neighboring Yola diocese. The January 7 razing of Baga revealed the Nigerian military’s ineptitude. Senior officers who failed to do their job properly should be sacked as a lesson to the others.
Among the soldiers, there were sympathizers with Boko Haram – some of them were even Boko Haram members and many of them just ran away.
The threat we face presents a very bleak future for the Church. Many of our members are scattered and others have been killed. In some areas there are no Christians any more. But the Church belongs to Christ. The Church will remain strong and many of our people have returned after their land has been taken back by the Nigerian soldiers.
The most important thing is to pray for our people. I know people are praying for us and I am very grateful. I want people to pray the Hail Mary. Our mother Mary has been championing our cause. We have a lot of devotion to the Blessed Virgin”.
Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos and President of the Nigerian Catholic Bishops’ Conference
“The situation is very dangerous and very disturbing, because once they capture Maiduguri…then you can be sure that all of the areas around will easily fall to them. …military intervention, not diplomatic, is needed, because we are dealing with a group that has lost all rationality and kills people at will… whether they are Christians or Muslims, they kill them indiscriminately, …dialogue cannot happen in such circumstances.
When we lack political unity, religious unity, ethnic unity, then it is easier for Boko Haram to penetrate and achieve the kind of negative results they are achieving …the solidarity seen in France after the attack on Charlie Hebdo, which killed 17, is what is needed in Nigeria.
To go beyond politics, beyond our narrow religious confines, beyond our narrow ethnic groups and really uphold the common good and speak out against evil, against terrorism, against inhumanity and be together as one people. This is what we desire now”.
Image Credit: Washingtonpost
Should the Catholic Church adopt a more welcoming stance towards gays, and allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion?
An interim report issued by the Vatican at the last Synod had praised the “gifts” homosexuals can bring to the church and also noted the “precious support” same-sex partners mutually provide. However, this section was revised and focuses on homosexuality as one of the problems Catholic families have to confront.
“People with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy.” The church also reaffirmed its view of marriage as between one man and one woman.The church also did not come to a conclusion on whether or not divorced Catholics should be able to receive Holy Communion.
Yes: Pope Francis
“Who am I to judge?”
“…I am confident the coming year would allow for ideas to mature and “find concrete solutions” to the many challenges facing the Church.
No: Outspoken American cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, currently head of the Vatican’s top Canon Law Court:
“The pope is not free to change the Church’s teachings with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other doctrine of the faith.”
Yes: New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Pope’s recent statements on homosexuality at this month’s Synod represent an ‘evolution,’ not a ‘revolution’ within the Catholic Church. “Pope Francis never ceases to surprise us.
Just when you think you might have him figured out, he offers another fresh innovative way of looking, that talk to which you just referred at the close of the synod was nothing less than inspirational. He spoke from the heart. He spoke about himself as the Pope and the church and he challenged all of us. And it reminds me of Jesus. Always walking down the road, and never forgetting the people on either side.”
“…We just wanted to set the tone and agenda [this year] and I think that was done very well under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and Pope Francis. ..Synods don’t change doctrine. Nobody changes doctrine. We believe that we’re given doctrine by God and our job is to faithfully and effectively pass it on. Synods are more of a pastoral conversation of a family coming together to kind of give ourselves a report card on how we’re doing that and if we can do it better.”
No: Archbishop Adewale Martins, Archbishop of Lagos
It is not my stance, it is the stance of God, it is the stance of Christ, and it is the stance of the Church. Marriage was established by God and we can see it even in the natural order of things, that a man should be married to a woman and a woman should be married to a man. That is the way nature has built the human person. Even physiologically, that is the way nature has built us. Such that we go against the law of God, we go against natural order.
Those who claim they are engaging in gay union go against the law of God and against natural order. You don’t even properly call it marriage because it is not. You can call it gay union or gay living, whatever it is, but that is not marriage, and that is the position of the Church on this.