The Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis has urged Nigerians to imbibe religious tolerance irrespective of their affiliations. The Pope, who was represented by the Apostolic Nunciature to Nigeria, Antonio Guido Fillipazzi, made the call in Nsukka on Thursday during the dedication of the newly built St. Theresa’s Catholic Cathedral, Nsukka in Enugu State.
The Pope said no country had recorded any meaningful progress in the presence of religious intolerance. “Nigerians should love one another irrespective of religious affiliations in order to move the country forward,” he said.
The Pontiff commended Catholics in Nsukka Catholic diocese for building a magnificent cathedral for God and urged them to always remain steadfast in their faith. In a homily, Bishop Godfrey Onah of Nsukka Catholic Diocese, urged Christians in the country to always work and pray for a peaceful development of the country.
He noted that Christians in the country had not made the expected impact that would transform the country economically, socially and morally because the majority did not work and pray.
“The number of Christians in Nigeria are enough to transform the country but problem is that while some pray they do not work while others work without praying, as we have dedicated this cathedral today if you come and stay here everyday praying without work, you will die of hunger and if you work without praying your efforts will be in vain as you will miss heaven,” he said.
The bishop expressed appreciation to Catholics, non Catholics , Muslims and Enugu state government among others who contributed financially towards the building of the cathedral. “This cathedral is not built by Catholics and Christians alone even Muslims contributed and some of them are here present today. My prayer is that God will bless all and sundry who contributed in cash or kind towards making this cathedral project a reality,” he said.
Onah however, reminded Christians in Nsukka diocese that building a cathedral for God was good but the most important was housing Jesus Christ in their hearts, by doing God’s will all the days of their lives.
In a remark the President of Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Bishop Augustine Akubueze, who was represented by the Deputy President, Bishop Lucius Ugorji, said the new cathedral was an eloquent testimony of the love the diocese had for God. “This cathedral is one of the biggest cathedral in the country,” he said. NAN gathered that building of the cathedral started in 1991 by the Bishop Emeritus, Most Rev. Francis Okobo.
Over 35 bishops and many Catholic priests attended the dedication. Bishop Aloysius Agbo of Nsukka Anglican Diocese, Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, Mr Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra were among dignitaries present during the dedication.