Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abujaâ€¨
There are indications that the disagreements between the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and one of its major stakeholders, the Catholic Church may be deeper than what the public has been made to believe.
THISDAY gathered Wednseday that besides the reason so far adduced for its temporary suspension of its membership with CAN, the Catholic Church has an axe to grind with the national leadership of the organisation for its inability to carry other stakeholders along in its decision-making process.
In addition, the authorities of the Catholic Church were said to have expressed concern over some recent utterances and actions of the national leadership of CAN under Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, which it said negated the concept and spirit of behind the establishment of the organisation.
According to the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), one of the key visions of CAN was to promote the desire of Our Lord, Jesus Christ “that they all may be one”.
THISDAY gathered from a CAN source that one of the reasons adduced for withdrawing from CAN stemmed from the fact that the organisation was gradually being dragged into partisan politics, thereby compromising its ability to play its role as the conscience of the nation and voice of voiceless.
Apart from politics, the Catholic Church said the Christian body had come under heavy criticism for neglecting ecumenism, which is regarded as the theological foundations of Christian unity.
For instance, the Catholic group alleged that the Directorate of Ecumenism and Inter-faith, as one of the missions used by CAN for the promotion of peace and unity in the nation, was not given attention.
“To cap it all, the CAN leadership was accused of not showing enough respect for the various blocs and no longer acts on consensus opinion on major issues.
“CAN is not an army put in place to defend Christians against Muslims. Rather it is an association whose main objective is to promote unity among Christians and peaceful coexistence with people of other faiths.
“It is unfortunate that the present terrorism in Nigeria has become a major distraction to CAN which cannot just sit down to watch the destruction of Christians and churches,” he said.
Following the outbreak of terrorist insurgency which had churches as one of its key targets, the leadership of CAN found itself trying to respond to the serious security challenges facing most Christian faithful living in the northern parts of the country.
Although many among the Christian faithful believe that Oritsejafor has been very proactive in trying to protect the interests of Christians by speaking out most times against attacks on innocent worshippers by the Muslim sect, the Catholic Church felt he did not consult widely before taking positions.
It was learnt that though the Catholic Church may have suspended participation in CAN activities at the national level, it is making efforts to ensure things do not get out of hand.
According to a source at the CSN in Abuja, Catholic Bishops are intervening in the matter and both sides are already taking measures to resolve the conflict.
The source said Oritsejafor has sought for dialogue with the Catholic Church leadership in order to iron out areas of disagreements between them and his leadership.
According to the source, the Catholic Church has accepted to fix a date for a meeting with the CAN leadership after the matter must have been tabled before the its Bishops conference.