By Our Correspondent
Members of the clergy campaigning for political parties under any guise are undermining the credibility of the church.
The head of the public enlightenment desk of the Justice Development and Peace/Caritas Commission (JDPC), Nsukka Diocese, Enugu State, Dr Emeka Ngwoke, stated this in an interview with newsmen weekend.
He frowned at some reverend fathers allegedly campaigning and influencing the voting patterns of their parishioners, adding that members of the clergy and security operatives should not be partisan because of their positions in society.
Ngwoke, a Reverend Father, said the Catholic Church abhores such practices, and advised reverend fathers to take instructions from their bishops who are entrusted with the administration of the dioceses of the church.
He said, “It is unconscionable for priests to campaign for one political party or the other. The Canon Law does not support it. This law was not made by politicians, but the church. This has affected the credibility of the church badly. It undermines the primary responsibility of the church for the spread of the gospel.
“At the second Vatican Council, the church came out clearly that political powers should stay apart from the ecclesiastical power. A provision in the Canon Law says in certain circumstances, an exception is made.
“But it is not for individual priests to make that exception. The power resides with bishops. They are the ones to determine that such an extra-ordinary circumstance exists. He is also to give direction on how that exception might be made.
“The ministry of the church in each diocese is entrusted in its entirety to the diocesan bishop. The priests are co-workers of the bishop. The priest couldn’t be doing something in the name of the church when he knows his bishop will object to it.
“There are people who because of their positions must be politically neutral, otherwise society cannot function very well. When people do not take this important and critical decision, they cause confusion that could lead to breakdown of law and order.”
There have been claims by both the Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party that the Catholic Church is favouring one of them, a claim that the bishop of Nsukka Diocese, Bishop Godfrey Onah, has exonerated his diocese, and advised the electorate to vote according to their consciences in the interest of Nigeria.