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Apr 21, 2018


The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan has stated that justice is the panacea for peace and development; adding that forgiveness is also another factor as against the old globally accepted dictum of “if you want peace, prepare for war.”


Cardinal Onaiyekan made this remark in his welcome address at the inaugural ceremony of RECOWA Peace Committee (REPCO); an initiative of the Regional Conference of Catholic Bishops of the West Africa sub-region. The ceremony took place recently at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) Resource Centre, Durumi, Abuja, Nigeria.


Welcoming the members of the Peace Committee, the Diplomatic Corps and other dignitaries to the ceremony, Cardinal Onaiyekan used the submissions of Pope Saints John XXIII and John Paul II to assert his point saying: “John Paul II added to the adage of John XXIII when he says, “If you want peace it is not enough to work for justice, you must also learn to forgive”.

He continued: “Why did Pope John Paul the Second say so because if you say until you have full justice in the world before there will be peace then there will never be full justice in this world. We shall always be fighting. Pope John Paul II added that if we are going to wait until you have complete justice for yourself, generally everybody will decide what is just in his own eye then we will never have peace in the world. So we also begin to learn to forgive one another, to accept sometimes not exactly how we want it to be.”

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja then declared: “Generally, there is a growing consensus among humanity that war is not the right thing; that arming ourselves and preparing for war is not the way for peace.”


Cardinal Onaiyekan noted that the peace committee, of which he is a member; will have to device ways and means of bringing into practical terms this wonderful ideas “if you want peace work for justice, learn forgiveness and when you put that together, it will be easier to those who are so angry to be a bit quiet so that we can face the issue of justice and oppression in the cool and peaceful environment.” He added that very often if you go to battle, if you go to war, you will not win because you are right but you will win because you are stronger.


The cardinal noted that the committee should not work in isolation but find a way of linking up, first with other Christians. His words: “Christians like ourselves, then definitely we should make up the context of West Africa with our Muslims who also believe in God, who claim that their religion Islam makes peace. We should find a way of making up with them effectively and we do hope that ECOWAS will encourage whatever we are trying to do here. When we all come together, then the era of peace that I believe God has brought to the world will come about”.

In his own goodwill message, the Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi emphasized the Catholic concept of peace noting that peace is a gift of God and connected with the respect of human life. He added: “There is no peace without penance, there is no peace without adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, there is no peace without the life of the Holy Scripture”.

He added: “When the Church collaborates with other organizations with similar authorities in order to establish and re-establish peace, we are not to put aside this fundamental truth of our faith which Pope Francis has repeated many times”.

The Chairman of the Committee, Bishop Lucius Ugorji thanked all those present and the facilitators of the inaugural ceremony, assuring that the members of the committee will do their best to ensure the realization of the aims and objectives of RECOWA in respect of peace, justice and development in the sub-region.

Members of the RECOWA Peace Committee include: Arlindo Cardinal Futardo of Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde; Philippe Cardinal Quedraogo of Quagadougou, Burkina Faso, and John Cardinal Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria and Archbsihop Ignatius Kaigama, President of the Regional Conference. Others are: Nicodeme Barrigah -Benissan of Togo; Rev. Fr. Innocent Jooji of Nigeria; MadamYoum Marie Noelle D. Sene of Senegal; Mr. Elyse Quedraogo of Burkina Faso and Sir Emmanuel Habuka Bombande of Ghana.

The inaugural ceremony which was preceded by a one-day training workshop for all the members of the committee, had The Catholic Church and Peace in West Africa: Mediation, Prevention, Resolution and Transformation of Conflicts in West Africa; The Contribution of RECOWA as its theme. The programme was facilitated by the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD).

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