“Wage war against sin not against the sinner” – Cardinal John Onaiyekan urges the nation.
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan said this during the Church sermon as to commemorates Abuja centenary celebration of our Lady of Fatima.
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan and the Auxiliary Bishop, Most Rev. Anselm Umoren led the clergy, the religious and thousands of Catholic faithful in celebration of the 3rd National Marian Congress/Centenary of the Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, in Abuja on Saturday, 20 May, 2017.
They carried with them the Statue of Our Lady mounted on a well-decorated vehicle while the religious including Cardinal Onaiyekan and the Auxiliary Bishop and the laity marched along in prayer.
In his sermon Cardinal John spoke about the significance of the timing, visitation and the location; Fatima and messages: Holiness, Repentance, Forgiveness, Religion tolerance and call to continuous prayer intercessory for others.
The procession and Rosary recitation was followed by a Mass officiated by the Cardinal, assisted by the Bishop and a dozen of Priests.
Alluding to Nigeria’s ongoing war against corruption, the senior cleric counsels: “we should wage war against sin and not against the sinner,’’ stressing: “we should pray for the conversion (and salvation) of sinners.’’
The Cardinal traced the history of Blessed Virgin Mary’s six appearances and messages to three children in Portugal’s small village of Fatima between May and October 1917.
“We have to take our children seriously because God can speak to us through them,’’ he said, noting that two of the Fatima messages centred on the need for humanity to love God and neighbour and to live a life of holiness, as well as the need to pray for sinners or those who may not deserve our love.
The third message, Cardinal Onaiyekan said emphasised peace in the family and the world, and “opening of our hearts to embrace others.’’
He spoke about the “mystery of God’s providence and what appeared to be accidental coincidence’’ in the choice of Fatima, a village with Muslim history for the Marian apparition, explaining that the fulfilment of the Fatima message of peace through the end of World War 1 in 1918, is a demonstration that God will always provide a solution to even the most difficult situation.
Cardinal Onaiyekan, then, enjoined Nigerians not to lose hope but to trust in God to see the country through its difficult period.
Speaking at the event during brief interview with National Enquirer,
Princess Awunor Anazodo,
Former Chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) and
President of an NGO Women Awake, speaks on needs, for everyone to be reminded, to care for the faith of Our children as Mother Mary sees the simplicity of their heart as vessel to communicate to the world.
“Imagine Mother Mary chose the innocent heart and the simplicity of little these little children, Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia, as conveyor of her message of faith, prayer, sacrifice, forgiveness, perseverance, praying for others and need for sacrifices.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary is always our shelter and our consolation.” She stated.
In a special prayer of consecration, the entire Archdiocese of Abuja was then handed over to the protection of Our Lady of Fatima, and for the statue to begin its journey across the Dioceses until September 2017 when the Archbishop would have chosen a permanent Diocese for it.
The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria has declared 2017 a Marian Year under the theme: “Do whatever He tells you,’’ a scriptural reference to Jesus Christ’s first miracle at Cana in Galilee, when the wine ran out at a marriage ceremony, and Mary, His mother had to intervene before He turned water into wine.
The Marian Year activities kicked off with Parish Congresses May 7 to May 13 in Abuja.
The programme would be rounded off with a National Celebration at the Ogbe Stadium, Benin City Oct.12 to Oct. 14.
The Eagle Square remained abuzz on Saturday even after the solemn programme under a friendly weather as food vendors and sundry religious items made brisk sales.