The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) has returned to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) five years after walking out of the national Christian Umbrella body over certain differences.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) had in a letter dated September 24, 2012 by its president, Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama and addressed to the then CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor announced its withdrawal from the organisation.
Last year, current CAN president, Samson Olasupo Ayokunle initiated moves to ensure the return of the Bishops to the fold.
Some weeks ago, Kaigama led the leadership of CBNC to the CAN national secretariat, where he and Ayokunle’s team addressed identified grey areas.
Consequently, at the weekend, a CSN delegation led by Rev Fr. Prof Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua who represented Kagama, attended the expanded CAN National Executive Committee meeting for the amendment of the body’s constitution.
In his reaction, Ayokunle expressed joy at CSN’s reunion with CAN.
A statement on Sunday by his spokesman, Bayo Oladeji, quoted him as saying CSN decision to rejoin CAN is “one of the best things that has happened since I was given the mandate to become the President of the Association.”
“One of my visions for CAN was to bring our Catholic brothers and sisters back to the fold and I must acknowledge the support and understanding of my brother in Christ, Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama, President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria and his team.
“I give kudos to all the Principal Officers, the Directors and some Christian leaders in the country for their support and understanding while the dialogue lasted.
“My joy knows no bond with the presence of the CSN at the Constitutional Amendment Meeting held on Thursday and at the National Executive Committee meeting of the Association on Friday. It is our prayers that the Body of Christ in the country will remain one forever in Jesus’ name.
“At a time like this when Christians are almost becoming endanger species in Nigeria, when churches are being denied the Certificate of Occupancy especially in the core North, when Christians are being denied of key public offices and when the Church is expected to speak for the voiceless especially over the economic and social hardship in our country, we cannot afford of being at war with ourselves”.
Ayokunle who also doubled as the President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention added, “Our Association is unity in diversity. Jesus Christ prayed for the Church shortly before He returned to heaven in John chapter 17 when He said, ‘I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me“
Speaking in the same vein, CAN Chairman, North Central, Rev Dr Israel Akanji said the return of the Catholic Church is a sign of good omen to the Body of Christ in Nigeria.
“We are all happy with this new development, now the Body of Christ in Nigeria is one, virile and strong. We can now speak with one voice. With their return, CAN is even now stronger and greater. We have learnt one lesson or two from the challenges that led to their withdraw. Never again will any of the blocks withdraw its membership.”
CAN Director of Legal Affairs, Barrister Samuel Kwanku disclosed that the association is working on the new Constitution to ensure that “CAN has an effective internal mechanism to address any misunderstanding among its members. We are all happy with the return of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN). Our strength lies in our unity.”