Catholic Church Disapproves of PVC Registration by Compulsion
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The leadership of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, has advised its priests against compelling adherents to obtain Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) ahead of the 2023 general election.
The church also bemaoned the continued shutdown of the nation’s public owned universities due to the inability of the federal government to resolve the dispute with members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
While calling for the active participation of all citizens in the tedious electoral process, the Church said utmost care must be taken not to deprive the people of those means that Christ, through the Church, made available for the nourishment and salvation of their souls.
Some priests had been seen in recent viral videos warning their parishioners on the consequences of not getting their PVCs, including outright prevention from attending church services.
In a statement jointly signed by Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Zacharia Nyantiso Samjumi; Director, Church and Society, Rev. Fr. Uchechukwu Obodoechina and the Director, Pastoral Affairs and Executive Secretary, Caritas Nigeria, Fr. Michael ‘Leke Banjo, the church said denying the faithful opportunity to receive Holy Communion or any of the Church’s sacraments on the grounds of non-possession of the PVC violated the tenets of the church.
“The Church, therefore, does not approve of the practice according to which pastors of souls prohibit Christ’s faithful from public worship on account of not having their PVCs. The faithful must not be denied Holy Communion or any of the Church’s sacraments on the same ground.
“Priests, who act this way violate the laws of the Church, which clearly define those circumstances under which the faithful may be legitimately deprived of such spiritual goods (cf. canon 915). In other words, when genuine situations demand that the exercise of the right to worship be justly limited, this is to be done not arbitrarily but in accordance with the law promulgated by the competent legislator.
“Parish priests, their equivalents and their assistants, pure as their intention may be, do not have the authority to create impediments to the free exercise of the right to worship and to receive the sacraments of the Church (cf. canon 912).”
On the other hand, the church commended those priests who, through different legitimate means, have vigorously encouraged the faithful entrusted to their care to acquire their PVCs.
“We ask such priests not to relent. However, in our bid to encourage all to obtain their PVCs, utmost care must be taken not to deprive the people of those means that Christ, through the Church, has made available for the nourishment and salvation of their souls.
The Church leadership also hailed the June 20, 2022 decision of the Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the INEC from ending voters’ registration on June 30, 2022, even as it listed some of the ways the parishes could mobilise members through continuous Voter education.
It said priests should facilitate continuous citizen mobilisation at different levels and should teach the people about the need to fulfil their civic duties
It said high-profile religious leaders should take to the social media with messages that underline the centrality of the PVC while Nollywood actors and actresses and musicians should be encouraged to produce films and music to reach out to the people through some type of meta-advocacy.