The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) who had in a letter to CAN, dated September 24, 2012, announced its withdrawal from the organisation announced the return of Catholic Church to the Christian association of Nigeria after five years of dissociating itself from the body.
The return process was concluded on Thursday and Friday in Abuja when a delegation of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, led by Rev. Fr. (Prof.) Cornelius Omonokhua, attended the expanded National Executive Committee and quarterly meeting of CAN for the amendment of its constitution.
The President of CAN, Dr Samson Ayokunle, according to a statement issued on Sunday by his Special Assistant, Media & Communications, Adebayo Oladeji, could not hide his happiness on the new development.
Ayokunle was quoted as saying, “Their return is one of the best things that have happened since I was given the mandate to become the President of CAN. One of my visions for CAN is to bring our Catholic brothers and sisters back to the fold and I must acknowledge the support and understanding of my brother in Christ, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, the president of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria and his team.
“I give kudos to all the principal officers, the directors and some Christian leaders in the country for their support and understanding while the dialogue lasted. My joy knows no bound with the presence of the CSN at the constitutional amendment meeting of CAN held on Thursday and at the NEC meeting on Friday. It is our prayers that the body of Christ in the country will remain one forever in Jesus’ name.
“At a time like this when Christians are almost becoming endangered species in Nigeria, when churches are being denied Certificates of Occupancy, especially in the core North, when Christians are being denied key public offices and when the Church is expected to speak for the voiceless, especially over the economic and social hardship in our country, we cannot afford to be at war with ourselves.”
CAN’s Director of Legal Issues, Kwankur Samuel, said the organisation was working on the new constitution to ensure that “CAN has an effective internal mechanism to address any misunderstanding among its members. We are all happy with the return of the CSN. Our strength lies in our unity.”
The CAN Chairman (North Central Zone), Rev Dr Israel Akanji, said the return of the Catholics was a sign of good omen to the body of Christ in Nigeria.
“We are all happy with this new development, now the Body of Christ in Nigeria is one, virile and strong. We can now speak with one voice. With their return, CAN is even now stronger and greater. We have learnt one lesson or two from the challenges that led to their withdrawal. Never again will any of the blocs withdraw its membership,” he stated.