Group petitions Catholic priests over biased politics in Anambra polls
A civil society group, Patriotic Front of Nigeria, has accused Catholic priests in Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province of obstructing partisan politics and displaying their involvement in the just-concluded 2023 Presidential and State House of Assembly elections in Anambra State.
In a petition addressed to the Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, the group named some Catholic priests involved in the melee for political power, thus deviating from their primary responsibility of preaching the good gospel or advocating for good governance.
The group accused the priests of usurping powers of the altar to canvass for their favourite candidates to their congregation.
The group alleged that the actions of the Catholic pastors had implanted infighting between the current Governor Soludo and its former Governor and 2023 Labour Party Presidential candidate, Peter Obi, both members of the church.
The group urged the Prelate of the Catholic Church to investigate the priests involved and questioned why the state remained backward with poor infrastructure, high rates of unemployment, insecurity, and brigandage despite the influence of the Catholic Church in the political leadership of the state.
According to the petition, “It is an open secret, so to say, that during electioneering periods, priests and a few highly connected lay faithful align with political money bags to undo others who may not have met other financial demands. Under other circumstances, the pulpits are used to cajole the faithful and congregants on who to vote for, thus describing their favoured candidates as ‘competent and God-sent’. This dangerous and acrimonious religious politics is taking root in Onitsha Province and has its foundations in Onitsha Archdiocese and Awka diocese.”
The group accused the priests of taking partisan postures and campaigning for politicians without restraint.
The group also accused presidential candidate of the Labour Party Peter Obi of using the church to disparage the current Governor Soludo and tribal disaffection under the guise of doing service to the state and country.
The group warned that if nothing was done by the Vatican through the intervention of Filipazzi to call the priests to order, the situation may escalate and spin out of control to the detriment of the revered prestige of the church.