From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, has written to the President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) Archbishop Lucius Ugorji, to apologise for the comment he made with the name of the Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis.
Lalong was reported to had linked the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to the issue of his appointment as the Director General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign council which generated lots of unfriendly reactions from Nigerians especially from Christians.
The letter reads: “I have followed with some shock and deep regret, the reactions that trailed my appointment as the Director-General of the Campaign Council for the Presidential Candidates of our Party, the APC, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and Kasshim Shettima.
“The appointment, understandably was received with mixed reactions across the Christian community who genuinely feel aggrieved by the decision of our party to settle for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. While many people commended me for the appointment and saw it as a way of remaining within the system to fight for our own interests, others cast aspersions on it on the grounds that our faith had been insulted and denigrated.
“In the course of this, many of my opponents turned the issue into a political weapon with some spreading rumours and questioning the integrity of my credentials as a Catholic and a Papal Knight. In trying to make my case, I granted interviews to justify why I believe that the appointment did not, in any way, undermine my commitment to the Catholic Church.
“During the week, in the course of defending myself, I had cause to make reference to my credentials as a Catholic and a Papal Knight. In the process, I made reference to the Holy Father. I now realise that this was an error on my part and has caused some level of concern and even embarrassment to many, especially the Members of the family of Papal Knights to which I belong.
“I now understand that I may have overreached myself in the course of trying to defend my personal decision in accepting this appointment and thus, the reference to the Holy Father was not intended as an act of disrespect to his exalted and revered office.
“Your Grace, by this written letter, I wish to tender my unreserved apologies and ask for their understanding and forgiveness from my brothers in the Catholic faith and, through you, the entire members of the Bishops’ Conference, our Fathers and our Leaders. My commitment to the Catholic faith to which I belong remains unreserved and undiluted. I will continue to uphold the banner of my faith in public life as I have done over the years.”