…..to change mode of addressing followers
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, has called
religious leaders must change their mode of addressing their adherents
to conform with the correct teachings of their religions and promote
total peace and harmony.
Cardinal Onaiyekan made the call on Monday in Ilorin in his Keynote
address at the First International Conference of Inter-Religious
Council organised by the University of Ilorin.
The theme of the Conference is: “A peaceful co-existence among
adherents of different religions: a panacea for National integration
He was of the view that there was the need for the total training of
both Muslim and Christian clerics on knowledge of scriptures
pertaining to religious harmony in Nigeria.
The Cardinal believed that there were too many ignorant Christian and
Muslim clerics misleading their adherents.
He noted that religious harmony was possible in Nigeria, but required
that clerics from the two major religious body should to go back to
the scripture and be retrained.
The Cardinal also called on both Christian and Muslim Clerics to stop
misleading their followers in their sermons.
“Religious harmony is not just peaceful co-existence, which is often
not peaceful at all especially when there are perceptions of injustice
in some quarters.
“Peace is more than the absence of war,” Cardinal Onaiyekan said.
Onaiyekan stated that it is only peace that can brings about national
integration, in which every section finds itself at home and valued.
He warned that the nation was moving towards polarization and
division, with the failure of the two major political parties in the
country to meet the legitimate expectations of the average Nigerian.
“There is need for a radical theological updating of our ideas of God
and our faith, in such a way that we can accommodate others, just as
God Himself has accommodated all of us,” he said.
He called on the diverse religious adherents to celebrate the common
grounds we have in our faiths, despite the non-negligible doctrinal
Speaking at the occasion, Prof Ishaq Oloyede, Secretary General of the
Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs said the conference was
appropriate and timely.
He was of the view that discourse on peace and peaceful co-existence
was a continuous one, as nations have been experiencing serious
clashes in one form or the other.
Oloyede, who was represented by Dr Yusuf Adebayo, Lecturer at the
Depart of Religions of the University of Ilorin advised against
forcing religion on people.
He quoted the Quran that says: “Let there be no compulsion in
religion; truth stands out clear from error.”
Oloyede warned that condemnation and provocation of people of other
faith is considered a wrong step that can lead to unhealthy
relationship among people who belong to different faiths and it is
therefore condemned in Islam.
“In order to foster social interactions between Muslims and
Christians, the Qur’an legalizes the consumption of Christian food for
Muslims, and vice-versa,” he said.
Earlier in his welcoming address, Prof Sulyman Abdulkareem, Vice
Chancellor of the University described religious bigotry as one of the
major problems confronting Nigeria.
He said the degree of citizens’ intolerance against one another is
very high and the reason behind the endemic religious crisis that
permeate various divides of the nation.
The VC said that God created religion as an instrument for unity and
peaceful co-existence among people.