From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Anambra state Catholic priest has barred some parishioners in his parish from receiving Holy Communion over alleged refusal to collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) ahead of the February 25, 2023 presidential election.
It was gathered the priest, identified simply as Rev. Fr. Okonkwo in one of the Catholic dioceses in Anambra state name withheld told his parishioners during morning Mass that it is sinful for a citizen to neglect his civic obligation as stipulated by the law.
The priest was said to have asked those who had not collected their PVCs to come up to the alter which they filled out but the priest told them that henceforth, they should stop receiving the Holy Communion until such a time when they must have collected their voters cards.
Fr. Okonkwo further announced that any of them that go secretly to receive Holy Communion in his parish, or go somewhere else to do so without collecting his PVC has committed a mortal sin.
He wondered why Christians, at a time when Nigeria is in dire need of good leadership, should not get themselves ready to elect God-fearing leaders.
He told his parishioners, who were stopped from receiving Holy Communion, not to see his move as punishment, but as a call to do the right thing.
The priest who cited Mathew 22:21, said that even Jesus Christ was mindful of the those in authorities, and his civic duties, and urged the congregation and Christians in general to imitate the life of Christ.
He said, “Nigeria is at the crossroads presently, and the world is looking unto Nigerians, and Christians in particular, to chose the best of leaders in 2023 to take the country out of its problems.
“Christians should be at the forefront. We should not be seen to be spectators. We must all go out to collect our voters cards, and exercise our civic obligations. Not just doing so; we should use the power of our PVCs to enthrone credible leadership.
“Heaven helps those that help themselves. God will not come down from heaven to elect our leaders. No amount of prayers for good leadership will work for us, unless we elect good leaders ourselves.
“The need to respect those authorities is emphasized severally in the scripture. The need for Christians to perform their civic obligations is also emphasized severally in the scripture. Jesus led the way by paying His tax to Caesar. Therefore, Christians must follow Jesus’ examples. Anyone that neglects his civic duty has committed sin.”
He however, asked the federal and state governments to consider declaring public holidays, and possibly shutting down markets for one day or two, to enable traders and government workers collect their PVCs ahead of deadline.