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Oct 20, 2017


The Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filippazzi has attributed the present global challenges facing humanity to  the gravity of sins committed against God and humanity; describing sin as the greatest evil in the life of man. He added that this was the primary warning of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when she appeared to the three shepherd children at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.
Archbishop Filippazzi made this assertion in his message delivered at the grand finale of the third National Marian Congress and the re-consecration of Nigeria to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The message was delivered by the Charge de Affairs at the Apostolic Nunciature in Abuja, Msgr Javier D Fernandes G. The country was first consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the celebration of the first Marian Congress in Lagos in 1954.
The ceremony  also marked the culmination of the country’s celebration of the Jubilee Year to mark the Centenary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the three shepherd children at Fatima, Portugal, declared by the Holy Father Pope Francis, from November 27th to November 26th 2017; and    It was held at the grounds of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Benin City, Edo State; and attended by about 54 members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria including John Cardinal Onaiyekan of Abuja and Anthony Cardinal Okogie, the emeritus Archbishop of Lagos and Archbishop Patrick Eboseli Ekpu, emeritus Archbishop of Benin City.
Also in attendance were: the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki , his deputy, Mr. Philip Shuaibu, and their wives as well as other government functionaries; about 800 priest, over 1,000 Rev Sisters about forty thousand lay faithful from all parts of the country.
According to Archbishop Filippazzi: “When Our Lady appeared to the three little shepherds, first, she warned against the gravity of sin, which offends God, grieves the maternal Heart of Mary and can send man to hell, if he doesn’t repent. … The worse evil for man is sin which is the root cause of all evils of the society and the Church.”
The Apostolic Nuncio further stated: “Always, the individual sin, coming from the heart, spreading and affecting everything and everybody, is the cause of war, violence, corruption, poverty, exploitation of human beings and resources, divisions, fights and so many other evils. This is why the claim to solve the dramas and challenges of our world is an illusion, if God’s forgiveness and the conversion of life does not wash away the sin from the human heart.
Speaking on the re-consecration of the Nigerian nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Archbishop Filippazzi declared: “But such an act must be understood well, and should not be reduced only to an outward gesture of devotion. He added: “Instead, ‘true devotion … must essentially lead to a closer union with Jesus under the guidance of Mary”.
Stressing the need for repentance and commitment on living a permanent conversion from sin, Archbishop Filippazzi concluded: “This Marian Year, this Congress and the new consecration of Nigeria to the Immaculate Heart of Mary are indeed moments of grace. However, we should not consider them as targets achieved and to put aside; we should instead consider them as a new beginning.”
He added: “Actually, all these initiatives get value if we reawaken our personal life, our ecclesial life and our social life, putting into practice the message of Mary, the message of Fatima ‘a motherly one but strong and decisive’ (S John Paul II, Homily 13th May 1982), which is at the end the eternal message of the Gospel.”  

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