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Christmas: Catholic Bishop advises Christians to be agents of peace


By Sam Oditah

Umuahia  –  The Bishop of Umuahia Catholic Diocese, Most-Rev. Lucius Ugorji, has advised Christians in the country to be agents of peace and reconciliation in their families and society at large.

Ugorji gave the advice on Sunday in his Christmas homily at the Mater Dei Cathedral, Umuahia, saying that the birth of Jesus Christ was meant to bring peace and reconciliation to the world.

He said that Christ came to the world “in order that we may have peace, love and harmony”, saying that ”as Christians, we should be agents of peace, reconciliation and communion.”

The cleric further urged Christians to emulate the humility of Christ who, he said, “elevated man to become son of God” by his birth.
He underscored the need for Christians to show love and care to the poor and underprivileged as well as to defend the oppressed, weak and vulnerable in society.

Ugorji expressed concern over the practice of the ‘Osu caste system’ and other forms of discrimination on the basis of gender, tribe, ethnicity, language or social status.

He said that discrimination was not only offensive to God but also the Constitution of the land, hence, the Supreme Court’s judgment that affirmed the right of women to inheritance.

The Bishop said, “There shouldn’t be any form of discrimination against our fellow human beings, we should fight against discrimination of any kind with the blood of our life.”

The religious leader also called for respect for human rights and the dignity of the human person, saying that God created man equal “therefore, everybody is equal before God.”

Meanwhile, some residents of Umuahia, the Abia capital, have attributed the low-key celebration of this year’s Christmas to the nation’s economic downturn.

Collins Ezebiro, a journalist, said, “The reason for the low-key celebration is not far-fetched.”

He said that the current economic recession had taken a big toll on peoples’ economic fortunes, adding that many families could not meet the expectations that came with Christmas.

“Things are very difficult. The economic hardship is biting so hard on a lot of homes, so most parents could not afford the usual Christmas wears for their children and wards,” he said.

A civil servant, Mrs Mary Onukwube, described this year’s Christmas as “the worst in my 25 years on earth,” adding that she and her husband, who is a primary school teacher, were owed four and six months’ salary, respectively.

A staff of Abia Line Transport Company and mother of five told NAN on the condition of anonymity that members of staff of the company were owed 11 months salary.

”How how do I celebrate Christmas with my children,” she asked.

A member of staff of the Federal Ministry of Works, who identified himself, simply as Joseph, also said that he had not been paid his December salary.

He expressed regret that he could not afford “any new dresse” for his children at Christmas due to the development.

“I know how I struggled to buy a small-size fowl at N3, 500 and some cups of rice,” the man, said.

Other respondents said that they were more concerned about the challenges that laid ahead, citing the resumption of schools and payment of school fees for the children as instances to buttress their concern.

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