China Frees Catholic Bishop After 24-Hours Detention

FILE PHOTO Chinese President Xi Jinping

 

Chinese police have released an underground bishop after holding him for a day, sources told AFP on Wednesday, as Beijing and the Vatican prepare to seal a historic agreement on the appointment of prelates.

Vincent Guo Xijin, bishop of the diocese of Mindong in the southeastern province of Fujian, was at the centre of the controversial deal after being urged by the Vatican to step aside for a prelate recognised by China’s Communist government.

He was detained on Monday, a Catholic source close to the matter told AFP, though it was not clear why.

“He has returned home. He was taken away on Monday evening and returned on Tuesday evening,” the source said, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions.

An Amnesty International researcher in Hong Kong, Patrick Poon, also cited sources as saying Guo was released after being held for “talks”.

The detention was first reported on Tuesday by AsiaNews, which is run by the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.

The AsiaNews report said Guo was detained along with another official of the diocese. The status of the second officer is unclear.

Contacted by AFP, both the local Chinese police and the Fujian provincial office of religious affairs said they were unaware of the arrests. The Vatican has not commented on it.

Beijing and the Vatican severed diplomatic relations in 1951 and although ties have improved as China’s Catholic population grows, they have remained at odds over the appointment of bishops.

China’s roughly 12 million Catholics are divided between a government-run association, whose clergy are chosen by the Communist Party, and an unofficial church which swears allegiance to the Vatican.

The situation is complex because the Vatican has previously accepted several bishops appointed by Beijing, officially an atheist regime.

Guo, 59, is recognised by the Vatican but not by the Chinese authorities.

He was recently urged by the Vatican to step aside for Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu and to accept being demoted to an auxiliary bishop, as part of preparations for the agreement.

According to Catholics consulted by AsiaNews, the disappearance of the bishop of Mindong can be explained by his refusal to celebrate Easter with the prelate who will replace him.

The site also reported that this same bishop disappeared for 20 days last year.

Poon said the Chinese government must urgently explain why Guo was held.

“What is meant by ‘talks’ in the Communist Chinese context is always about detention and threats unless the government can really explain why Bishop Guo was required to attend the ‘talks’,” Poon told AFP.

According to information from the French daily La Croix published Monday, a Chinese delegation is expected in Rome this week.

AFP

Gov. Ortom Rededicates Benue To God, Seeks Refund Of Looted Funds

Benue, Ortom, Looted FundsGovernor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to quickly investigate the alleged looting of over 151 billion Naira by officials of the previous administration and ensure its recoveries.

Mr Ortom made the call at a service for the rededication of Benue State and its people to God in the face of mounting economic and security challenges.

The interdenominational service, which held at the IBB Square to seek repentance before God, marked the end of a two-week state-wide prayer and fasting to seek lasting solutions to its socioeconomic challenges.

The rededication service commenced with a praise and worship session as the Governor and the congregation danced before God.

Founder, Dunamis International Gospel Church, Paul Enenche, preached on the significance of dedication and submission to God as the states seeks to break free from its challenges.

Also taking into account, the cooperate repentance of the state and her people, the Catholic Bishop of Makurdi, Bishop Wilfred Anagbe, charged the people to return to agriculture and shun idleness.

Governor Ortom then made the passionate appeal to the EFCC to help recover funds looted from the state.

In the end, he led the state exco members and some federal legislators to God as he prayed to break unholy ancestral covenants.

This led to joyous celebration among the participants.

The World Celebrates Good Friday 

Good FridayChristians around the world are remembering the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday.

It is a day usually filled with messages of Christ’s devotion to the cross, for the salvation of mankind.

Head of the Catholic Church, has focused his message this year, on condemnation of arms makers and the people who distribute them, blaming them for the multiple blasts in Brussels on Tuesday.

VIDEO: CHRISTIANS OBSERVE GOOD FRIDAY WITH SOLEMN SERVICE

The attacks have threatened to overshadow celebrations around the world, as security is heightened in many countries in Europe.

In the Philippines, however, Catholic devotees have been re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, with live crucifixions in Cutud village, 80 kilometres north of the capital, Manila.

Hundreds watched as the bloody rites were performed, as nails were hammered into hands and nails to crosses, while ropes and fabric supported their weight.

A less bloody scenario played out in a similar scenario in Sydney, Australia, where actors from the Wesley Mission staged a show of Christ’s death.

The Stations of the Cross was observed in Jerusalem, as Christians stopped at different stations, to say prayers, and sing hymns.

Across Nigeria

EasterThe feeling of Good Friday also spread across Nigerian states beginning from Jos, Plateau State to Yola in Adamawa State and then Asaba and Osogbo among others.

Very unique was in Adamawa State where the Catholic Bishop of Yola diocese took the day to celebrate with prisoners and then also paid fines for some prisoners who were given options of fines by judges but could not pay.

Meanwhile, the Vicar of the Saint Matthews Anglican Church, Maitama, Venerable Benjamen Idume, has advised public service holders to ensure the implementation of the 2016 budget.

Speaking with reporters in Abuja at a service to mark the Good Friday celebration, Venerable Idume called for prudent utilisation of the nation’s resources for socioeconomic development.

He also asked Nigerians to contribute their quota to the nation’s development, irrespective of their social status.

In Lagos, however, several travellers were lamenting the fuel situation as they remained stranded for hours at motor parks across the metropolis.

VIDEO: EASTER TRAVEL: PASSENGERS STRANDED AT BUS PARKS IN LAGOS

During a visit by Channels Television to some parks, passengers said there were no buses available as park authorities say vehicles are also trapped in the traffic lock jam spreading across the state.

The Good Friday is a religious holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary.

The holiday is observed during holy week on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover.

It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Black Friday, or Easter Friday, though the last term properly refers to the Friday in Easter week.

Good Friday is a widely instituted legal holiday in many national governments around the world, including Nigeria.

Ezekwesili Demands New Social Contract From Leaders

oby okwesili

The Former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, has stated that for Nigeria to surmount its current socio economic and political challenges, Nigerians must demand a new and normal social contract from its leaders.

Ezekwesili made the call in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, while delivering a lecture titled ‘Renegotiating Nigeria’s Social Contract after 100 Years of Nationhood’ marking the 80th birthday celebration of Nobel Laurette, Prof Wole Soyinka.

Ezekwesili, who also advocated on good governance, challenged the citizenry to live up to their responsibilities by putting their leaders on their toes in re-positioning the country’s path of sustainable growth.

She said; “It is not Nigerian to be known as an underperforming country, it is not Nigerian to be known as a corrupt country, it is not Nigerian to be known for every negative label.”

The lecture put together by the National Association of Seadogs, formed by Professor Wole Soyinka in 1948 at the University College Ibadan, was aimed at promoting good governance, social justice, and the advancement of democratic ideals.

It was also to honour the man fondly called “Kongi” by friends and admirers whom to them remained a different personality.

Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, referred to the celebrant as “a colossus of our current era”, he added, “the Government and the people of Ogun State are proud of Professor Soyinka, our illustrious son.”

The Catholic Bishop Of Sokoto State, Mathew Kukah, said, “I’m not assessing him on whether he’s a good footballer or whether he plays tennis well, I’m concerned with what church he worships in, if he worships at all, I’ve only come to celebrate what I consider the greatest human being to come out of our continent.”

In his remarks at the occasion, former Military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, expressed confidence in the future of the country despite current challenges. He said that he believes in Nigerians being able to keep the country together.

Ekiti Releases List Of Nominees To National Conference

The Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has forwarded to President Goodluck Jonathan, a list of the state’s nominees to the National Conference.

According to a statement by the state’s Chief Press Secretary, Olayinka Oyebode, the list was contained in a letter addressed to President Jonathan and dated February 19, 2014.

The Ekiti delegation include: International Law expert, Prof Akin Oyebode; Prof (Mrs) Bisi Aina; Catholic Bishop of Ekiti Diocese, Revd. Felix Ajakaye ; elder statesman and Chairman of defunct Movement for Ekiti State Creation, Chief Oladeji Fasuan; Secretary, Yoruba Unity Group,  Dr Kunle Olajide  and  Chairman, Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM, Oba Idowu Adamo Babalola.

According to the Governor’s letter, which was routed through the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Prof Oyebode, Prof Aina and Bishop Ajakaye are to represent Ekiti North, Ekiti Central and Ekiti South senatorial districts.

Chief Fasuan, who leads the Ekiti delegation, is a nominee for the Elder Statesman slot.

Dr Olajide and Oba Adamo Babalola are the state’s representatives for the two slots allocated to Ekiti out of the 15 slots to represent ethnic nationalities or groups in the zone.

We’re Responsible For Our Sufferings, Sultan tells Fellow Northerners

The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar has blamed the North for the present insecurity in the region.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar

He also blamed the region for being the architect of its underdevelopment.

Sultan Abubakar who is also the President of Nigeria’s Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs disclosed this at the Northern Nigeria Governors Peace and Reconciliation Committee meeting in Kaduna on Monday. He blamed northerners for inflicting heavy pains on themselves.

“Let us sit and talk freely and articulate positions that will bring us out of the quagmire we put ourselves. It is important that religious and traditional rulers from our various states sit together, so that each and every one of us will talk freely for us to articulate a position as the way out of this problem we find ourselves.

“We northerners have put ourselves in a quagmire, because whatever that is happening in the North is our own doing. This was because we did not do what we are supposed to do. And since we know that, we have to solve our problems ourselves. So, I think, it is not a bad idea that the committee was set up,” he said.

Speaking on the efforts of to bring peace to the country, the Sultan said. “We wrote a memo of about nine pages or thereabout covering various issues affecting the country and the north in particular to the then Acting President and now President Goodluck Jonathan, through the Nigeria Inter Religious Council (NIREC) where we suggested solutions to the problems.’’

In his own remarks, the Catholic Bishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, attributed the security challenges facing the North and the country in general to high level of poverty in the country and the region in particular.

Onaiyekan further said that another aspect of the problem was associated with religion, saying that, bad image of the country has spread to the outside world and there was need for the stakeholders to address the issue with a view to putting a permanent end to the problems.