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Doctrines & Morals
 
 
General…

IN THE FAMILY

IS IT TRUE THAT THE reason we have siblings is so that we don’t have to fight with outsiders? Fights amongst siblings, no matter how serious, are often resolved with less injury or spilled blood. They are resolved in -house. The scars of family feuds are buried in the dark recess of family secrets. White teeth exhibited in family photos mask the pains of many a family dispute. Every family has stories buried in the memory of those privileged to know, buried for the good of the family. A family is a tent providing cover for all its members regardless of differences.

Last week’s comments regarding Bishop Bagobiri elicited so much reaction that it calls for this follow up. For starters, the Catholic Church is a large family of faith, a large- enough- tent to accommodate different tendencies without friction. The difference of opinion between Bishop Bagobiri and the majority of members of the CBCN is not important enough to generate the hoopla that it has generated. It is doubtful that My Lord of Kafanchan has chosen to resurrect the ghost of Ahiara bishopric discontent with a view to dividing our House of Lords. There can be no merit in doing so; no advantage to anyone except those who wish us ill.

As has since come to light, Bishop Bagobiri’s differences with his brother Bishops within the CBCN are not new. On the surface, it would appear that the Bishop is a disagreeable person who finds it difficult to operate within a conference in which his views often do not carry. That is however a simplistic view which is unhelpful to the matter at hand. By his own public declaration, he stopped attending the plenary of the CBCN ‘when I discovered that my views often upset some strong members of the Conference’. Such non attendance has spanned over two years. It therefore means that Bishop Bagobiri concluding that his voice was being muffled within the conference, first stayed out, and then spoke out.

There can be no apportioning blames on this issue, but all these could have been avoided. It is truly frustrating for anyone to feel that the group he belongs to is intolerant of his views. It is the duty of such an individual to seek formal and informal means of making his feelings known; the group on the other hand has a duty to accommodate that individual’s views. Does it mean that the group position should be subordinated to the strong views of the individual? No. Just as the individual is expected to seek formal and informal means to advance his views, the group also requires such in accommodating the individual. No one outside the conference can state for sure that such and other methods were not employed. What is obvious is that whatever was done had limited success.

Those of us outside the chambers of the conference can only speculate, but one thing is certain- the CBCN and Bishop Bagobiri must have done their best to avoid this public display. Bishop Bagobiri speaks of ‘a burden I have been carrying for about four years, which was finally laid off recently’. It is in these regards that all sides deserve our understanding and appreciation. The jobs of our Bishops in and outside the conference are daunting and no doubt stressful. Daily, they deal with various issues requiring resolutions, some difficult, some delicate. Before we raise eyebrows on the latest public show, our Bishops deserve praise for the hundreds of other issues they have resolved away from public attention. For the one case of Ahiara that has apparently gone awry, there are scores of other bishopric appointments that have gone well.

How often do we take time to reflect on the enormous burden placed on the shoulders of our priests and bishops? The priestly vocation is a calling of no light weight; an enormous responsibility comparable to no other. The exercise of priestly duties demands soberness and divine grace. Priests need our support and prayers at all times. The Ahiara case and its most recent manifestation should serve as reminders of our duties towards our priests. It is okay to make material gifts to our priests, but what they need most is our constant prayer for divine guidance. Bishops are priests too.

Let us intensify our prayers for those the Lord has chosen to lead us on the path to His salvation.

Merry Christmas.

 


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