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Dec 14, 2017


Francis Cardinal Arinze, emeritus Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the Vatican has described the apostolate of the laity as an indispensable tool for the evangelization mission of the Church in the secular world. The cardinal made this assertion while addressing the directors, management and staff of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) and workers of other agencies of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN); when he visited the administrative head office of the Bishops Conference, at Durumi, Abuja recently.

The Cardinal who was in Nigeria to deliver the 2017 Convocation Lecture of Vuna University(Catholic University of Nigeria), Abuja; noted that the apostolate of the laity is veritable for the Church to enable her occupy appropriate position in the society. He outlined the duties of the laity in this respect to include: the evangelization of the secular world and impacting the teachings of Christ in normal areas of daily life, especially the family.

According to him, since the laity constitutes over ninety percent of the entire faithful of the Church, they have the primary duty of championing the evangelization apostolate directed and guided by the bishops, priests and people of Consecrated Life. He emphasized that prominent in this perspective is the role of the laity in family life, which is the nucleus of the community and the larger society.

Cardinal Arinze emphasized that if the laity is found wanting in its duty in the family and the society, with a view of ensuring an egalitarian society with equity and justice held sacrosanct; the Church’s mission will be affected. According to him, the Church is continually on the move, reaching out to the people in all perspectives and not to be domiciled in the sacristy or the church.

His words: “The Church is to be present in the society, the Good News must be pronounced openly. We all have a role to play in this mission of sharing the Good news of Christ with others in the world.” He urged all the workers of the CBCN agencies to make this their primary objective in all they do in the service of the Church, for the benefit and salvation of humanity to the greater glory of God.

Speaking on the progressive development of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN); Cardinal Arinze went down memory lane, noting that the Secretariat has made tremendous growth in service and structure and expressed satisfaction with this development. He added the Church in Nigeria has also grown  tremendously in spiritual, pastoral areas as well as in terms of structures and service to the people of the country, irrespective of their religious or ethnic affiliations.

Cardinal Arinze who also used the occasion to educate the staff of the Bishops Conference on the importance and role of work in the society, stated that “work is God’s gift to man and woman, before original sin and after”. He added that work is very important in our lives and it has many dimensions; noting that the most important of these dimensions are the cooperation with God on the things he has made; and our solidarity with our neighbours.

According to the cardinal, work is not all about financial remunerations alone as people with this kind of notion are not willingly continuing the work of creation by God in this respect. He urged the staff of the secretariat to remain steadfast in the faith and their commitment to the work of God and the Church for the salvation of humanity.

In his own remarks, the Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Ralph Madu, appreciated the contribution of Cardinal Arinze to the growth of the Church in Nigeria and the diaspora, recapitulating the various areas he had served the universal Church and the Nigerian Church before retiring. He thanked the cardinal for visiting the secretariat and assured him of the willingness and commitment of the workers of all the agencies of the Bishops’ Conference  in ensuring the success of the apostolate of the Church in the country. Rev. Fr. Evaristus Bassey, the Executive Secretary of Caritas Foundation of Nigeria (CCFN) and Director of Church and Society, (CSN), later presented a plaque to the visiting cardinal on behalf of all the staff of the Catholic Secretariat.

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