From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Archdiocese, Ignatius Kaigama, has raised alarm that poverty is seriously threatening the rights of Nigerians, their value system as well as the entire existence of the country.
He said that Parish Priests and officials of St. Vincent de Paul officials are, on daily basis, bombarded with requests from church members for material assistance.
Archbishop Kaigama, who delivered a Homily at Holy Trinity, Maitama, Abuja, on Sunday, also confirmed that his table has also been “saturated” with demands from Parishioners for welfare.
He said: “I receive requests from many qualified but unemployed youths. Requests to pay house rent, school fees, dowries, and even for funerals, as well as requests to buy cars. When you go to the periphery of our cities you see people who suffer the lack of basic infrastructure and worry so much about the safety of their lives and property.
“Our poor social security system negatively affects millions of Nigerian security personnel, youths, retirees, disabled persons, and families of retired or deceased workers living and contributes to the rising crime rate, leaving the authorities in a quandary.
“Youths have been turned into beggars. Some have embraced violent crimes or other criminal activities. Pensioners, sometimes regret their faithful services to their fatherland as they languish in poverty, especially during tough times like these.”
He made reference to a situation in Germany and some other developed countries where those who could not work during the COVID-19 period were given 60 per cent of their salary and those, whose small private businesses were affected got economic help to cushion their hardship.
Archbishop Kaigama added: “Humanitarian activities of Church-based organizations such as the Catholic Relief Services (USA), Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (Britain), MISSIO and MISEREOR, ACN in Germany have supported many poor people in Nigeria.
“Their income comes largely from Catholics who take up collections yearly; some of the organizations are supported by their Governments to reach out to us without religious or ethnic discrimination.
“Despite all the Catholic Church has done and continues to do through social services, schools and hospitals, Government collaborative support of the Catholic Church needs radical improvement.”
He said that Catholic Church has taken advantage of the Lenten campaign to take up collections from Lenten boxes and other mandatory collections (collections during Stations of the Cross, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, etc) to meet the Church’s obligations towards the poor, widows, prisoners, youths, etc.