As the campaign for the 2019 general elections is set to commence, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigerian (CBCN) on Wednesday barred all the clergy and religious leaders in the Catholic Church from endorsing politicians for any elective political office.
The Bishops also admonished the clergy not to allow church environment and properties to be used for campaigns by politicians ahead of 2019 election politicians.
The call on the clergy to stay away from endorsing politicians became necessary following the CBCN emphatic insistence that President Muhammadu Buhari should not run for the 2019 presidential election.
The Bishops had accused President Buhari of incompetence and unwilling to stop the barbaric killings perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen in the Middle Belt and other parts of the country.
Speaking on the forthcoming 2019 elections, CBCN President, Most Rev Augustine Akubeze, and Secretary, Most Rev Camillus Umoh, said: “We, the members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), as teachers of the faith and morals do have the serious obligation to educate our faithful on their role in the political life of the country.
“We have observed that the political atmosphere is very tense and also noticed the political realignment that is taking place.
“Some politicians are changing political parties and urging their supporters to switch over their support to their new parties as well.
“Given this development, we wish to use this opportunity to make it clear that the Catholic Church remains ever apolitical and does not endorse or subscribe to any political party.
“Consequently, we hereby declare that no Catholic clergy or religious should publicly endorse any candidate for political office. Liturgical ceremonies must never be used as an opportunity for political campaigns,” they stated.
The bishops further explained that “ecclesiastical properties should not be used as places for support for any political candidate or party. All priests and religious should avoid giving the impression that the church favours one candidate over another or one political party over another.
“These are difficult times in the history of Nigeria. As people of faith, we must work hard and also pray hard for the future of Nigeria. During the military rule, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) composed the Prayer for Nigeria in Distress.
“Dearly beloved in Christ, Nigeria is in distress. We consequently, call on Catholics to recite this prayer at all Masses and other liturgical celebrations.
“We entrust Nigeria into the hands of God and implore Him to improve the situation in our country. May God intervene in the life of Nigeria once again, so that we can enjoy true peace, justice, and prosperity,” they submitted.