Diocesan Updates

Bishop Ugorji’s 2020 Christmas message and the need for a renewal

Christmas: A Season of Joy, Peace and Renewal

We are happy that despite the challenges of the Covid – 19 pandemic, the inglorious aftermath of the peaceful #EndSars protest and the prevailing recession in the country, we are able to celebrate Christmas this year.

Christmas is a season of great joy when we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ our Saviour, the light that shines in the darkness, the undying life and the Prince of Peace. It provides us the opportunity to rest, recuperate and enjoy the company of our loved ones.

It is a special period, when we happily and gratefully recall the infinite love of God, manifest in his gift of His only Begotten Son as the Saviour of the human race. Christmas is also a celebration of what Jesus Christ stands for: love, truth, unity and peace.

Yet after celebrating Christmas for over 2000 years, the world has not fully imbibed these ideals. Consequently, many communities have not known true joy and lasting peace.

As we celebrate this Christmas season, our hearts reach out in solidarity to the patients of Covid -19 and to communities that must endure the restrictions and hardship resulting from coronavirus lockdowns.

We also turn our hearts to different parts of our nation, where communities are terrorized by the ungodly and violent activities of the so called bandits”, Boko Haram adherents and Fulani militia masquerading as herdsmen.

We sympathise with victims of various forms of violence across nation, who have lost their lives or precious property and thousands of people rendered homeless.

We think of families and communities torn apart by strife and hatred. We unite with millions of unemployed fellow citizens and other needy persons, who groan daily with anguished hearts and seem destined to a life of starvation and wanton suffering.

We are also closely drawn to people, who are driven to tears daily as hapless victims of various forms of injustice, fraud and corruption in the country.

Christ, whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas, came into the world to save man from sin. Through his deeds and teachings on love, truth, peace and justice, he also strove to liberate man from other negative forces that oppress and degrade him.

Christmas is an appropriate time for us as Christians to resolve to carry forth the work of Christ by renewing our lives spiritually and becoming more actively engaged in addressing the many ills that afflict our society.

As Christians we should be bearers of the light of Christ and agents of true peace and lasting harmony in our families and communities. Above all, we should join hands to eliminate the evils of bribery and corruption in our society, which largely account for the widespread hardship suffered by our people.

On the part of government, genuine efforts should be made to ensure that governance is focused more on morality and the common good, geared towards poverty alleviation by creating more job opportunities, improving the welfare of all citizens and enhancing the quality of living of one and all.

The payment of salaries, pensions and gratuity are not to be considered privileges. They are rights and entitlements and should be paid as and when due. No one should be condemned to death as a result of non-payment of salaries and pensions.

Government should also endeavour to create an enabling and secure economic and social atmosphere to attract more investors into the country and our state, in particular.

Above all, it should employ dialogue as a tool for the reconciliation and avoid the use threats or violence, since these can largely help to deepen animosity and tension.

The use of violence to suppress peaceful protesters is despicable, outrageous and totally condemnable. So are the fraudulent Local Government elections conducted recent in many states across the nation.

Finally, I pray: may the rich graces of Christmas flow in our hearts like a living river to renew our lives! May we be agents of true and lasting peace in our communities! May the birth of Christ be a source of abiding joy for us and all men of goodwill!

Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji
Bishop of Umuahia

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