20 November 2012

Nigeria: Pastors With Private Jets an Embarrassment - Bishop Kukah

Photo: This Day
President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor

The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev Matthew Kukah, yesterday, described the acquisition of private jets by Christian leaders in the country as not only embarrassing but also counterproductive to the fight against corruption. He said also that the trend negates the church's moral voice in setting an agenda for righteous living in society.

Bishop Kukah, an erudite scholar and social commentator, made the remark against the backdrop of a recent presentation of a private jet to the National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, by members of his congregation as he celebrated his 40th anniversary in the gospel mission, penultimate Saturday.

Kukah, who was guest speaker at the annual Founder's Day Anniversary lecture of Providence Baptist Church in Lagos, also said that he believed that exhibition of such opulence by church leaders was embarrassing.

The cleric who spoke on the subject of 'Church and the state in the pursuit of the common good', said: "The stories of corrupt men and women being given recognition by their churches or mosques as gallant sons and daughters and the embarrassing stories of pastors displaying conspicuous wealth as we hear from the purchases of private jets and so on clearly diminish our moral voice."

According to an online publication, Nigerobserver, Kukah, who was represented by the Administrator of Holy Cross Cathedral Lagos, Rev. Monsignor Pascal Nwaezeapu, also expressed displeasure with the perceived closeness of the CAN leadership to the corridors of powers. He insisted that the only way Christian religious leaders can retain their God given roles of mentoring is by speaking the truth at all times.

He added that such alliances would weaken the ability of the church to speak the truth to elected public office holders.

He said: "CAN has become more visible in relation to national prayer sessions, pilgrimages, alliances with state power and so on.

"Unless we distance ourselves, we cannot speak the truth to power. We cannot hear the wails of the poor and the weak. We should not be seen as playing the praying wing of the party in power."

He challenged the church to speak against corruption in low and high places, and said that such responsibility must never be jettisoned for any reason.

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