FADATEC’S RESPONSE TO BISHOP IKEAKOR’S CRITIC ON THE SHUTTING DOWN OF CHURCHES
*This post from Anglican Bishop Ikeakor raises interesting questions and I humbly wish to attend to them without much words.
…. HIS MAIN WORRY AND CONCERN IS: CHURCH LEADERS ARE BOLDLY ASKING THEIR PRIESTS, AND PASTORS TO STAY INDOORS AND PRAY PRIVATELY WHEREAS THE GOVERNMENT HAS MAGNANIMOUSLY DECLARED THAT THOSE ON ESSENTIAL DUTIES SHOULD GO TO WORK.
….. HIS QUESTIONS:
…. DOCTORS, NURSES, PHARMACISTS ARE ON ESSENTIAL DUTIES..
…..BANKERS ARE ON ESSENTIAL DUTIES?
……JOURNALISTS AND BROADCASTERS ARE ON ESSENTIAL DUTIES?
…..THE POLICE, ARMY, ROAD SAFETY, CIVIL DEFENCE Etc ARE ON ESSENTIAL DUTIES?
…..BUT PASTORS, PRIESTS, AND BISHOPS WHO ARE TAKING CHARGE OVER THE IMMORTAL SOULS OF MEN AND WOMEN HAVE ANNOUNCED THAT THEY ARE NOT ON ESSENTIAL DUTIES????
Response: Who actually made the announcement that priests and pastors are not on essential duties? Their essential duties speak volume even at this moment that they are praying and celebrating masses for the people without any offering or remuneration.
…..AARON THE PRIEST STOOD BETWEEN THE DEAD AND THE LIVING TO MINISTER TO THE PEOPLE DURING THE PLAGUE. BUT WE HAVE RUN INSIDE OUR HOUSES ASKING OUR CONGREGATIONS AND PARISHIONERS TO MINISTER TO THEMSELVES DURING THE PLAGUE.
Response: Just like Aaron did, a good father sends his children inside in order to battle with dangers. Our blessed Lord himself, did not bring out the remaining 99 sheep while making effort to save the lost sheep. If not, he would have lost more. However, the priests are still celebrating Masses for the good of the people towards the end of this pandemic, ministering to the people in the comfort of their homes through the social media and even offering sacrament of anointing to the sick.
…..AT WHAT POINT DO WE (PRIESTS)LEAD GOD’S FLOCK BY EXAMPLE OF FAITH AND SACRIFICIAL COMMITMENT TO GOD AND HIS PEOPLE?
Response: It is at this point that we have showed our concern for their lives and yet go out to offer sacrament of annointing, confession and communion to the sick and the dying.
……SOME DOCTORS AND MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS HAVE DIED IN THE COURSE OF ATTENDING TO THE VICTIMS OF PANDEMICS, YET OTHERS DID NOT RUN AWAY FOR FEAR OF DEATH.
Response: Just as these doctors did not allow those who are healthy to come In contact with the sick, so also priests have prevented the spread by prohibiting public gathering and yet continue to carefully attend to the spiritual needs of the people both the sick and the healthy.
……WHAT EXACTLY IS THE MESSAGE CHURCH LEADERS ARE PASSING TO THE WORLD BY KEEPING MUTE AND SHUTTING DOWN CHURCHES?
Response: It is a message of utmost concern and unparalleled priority for human lives created in the Image and likeness of God.
……WHERE AND WHEN DO WE DECLARE THE POWER OF RESURRECTION OF CHRIST TO WORLD?
Response: It is when we have been able to see to the end of this pestilence called COVID-19 through spiritual, human and Intellectual means, yet ensuring that human lives are not harmed as a result of our careless interpretation of faith.
…..WHERE DOES THE WORLD RUN TO NOW THAT THE CHURCH IS SHUT DOWN?
Response: Remember, what was shut down is church building. This is a moment to faithfully demonstrate that our body Is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It’s a challenge on believers to worship God In spirit and truth. Therefore, now that the Church building is shut down, wise Christians will maximise the opportunity to develop spiritual closeness and interiority with God.
…..WHO MINISTERS TO THE AGED, THE SICK, THE DEPRESSED, THE FEARFUL, AND THE HURTING AT SUCH A CRITICAL TIME LIKE THIS ? ….SHOULD IT NOT BE THE PRIESTS AND THE PASTORS?
Response: I have replied this. It is now that the works of priests have multiplied especially towards those you just mentioned. Even though the pastors do not have the faculty to minister the sacraments, serious ones among them have proven that they are not only relevant When there’s congregation. Rather In crisis situation like this, prayers are Intensified for the good of members. Priests who have the faculty of the sacraments are very altruistic in exercising their pastoral care to the sick, the aged, depressed and so on.
……IF IT IS GOD’S WILL THAT WE DIE IN THE COURSE OF MINISTERING TO HIS PEOPLE…
WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL WITH THAT?
Response: It’s not a big deal but a good deal. Besides, many deaths of priests have been recorded as a result of COVID-19. Rome the seat of the Catholic Church has a greater number of them.
……WHERE, WHEN, AND HOW ARE CHRISTIAN MARTYRS MADE….IN THEIR ROOMS AND ABODES OF HIBERNATION?
Response: Christian martyrs are made on the course defending one’s faith and not refusing to prevent the lives of the faithful against pandemic.
……WHAT IS THE IMMUNITY OF THE POLICE, ARMY, FRSC, NSCDC , AND EVEN DOCTORS AGAINST THE PANDEMIC WHY THEY ARE NOT SHUTTING DOWN?
Response: These offices are exercised in Isolation and not by gathering people. In the same manner, the works of priests have been set on top gear as they go about ministering to the sick and celebrating masses without the congregation, yet for their welfare. Besides, our God is not restricted by distance in granting healing and favours.
……IF THE PRIESTLY WORK AND VOCATION IS NOT AMONG THE ESSENTIAL DUTIES, WE SHOULD ALL RESIGN, AND JOIN THE POLICE, ARMY, JOURNALISTS, AND STOP EXTORTING PEOPLE THROUGH OFFERINGS, TITHES AND SEEDS.
Response: Following from the above responses, you can bear me witness that there’s no work that Is more essential than that of priests especially at this agonising situation that the whole world is searching for the face of God’s grace and mercy. Anyone who is resigning at this critical moment is simply tired of this essential duty.
…..IF WE CANNOT GIVE HOPE TO THE PEOPLE IN THEIR TIME OF DISTRESS, WHY SHOULD WE ASK FOR THEIR HELP (TITHES, DONATIONS ETC.) IN TIMES OF PEACE AND TRANQUILITY?
Response: The Holy Father, Pope Francis together with the bishops and priests and pastors in the world have been challenged to contextualise their homilies and sermons, just like the Old Testament prophets of ancient Israel in exile, towards hope and restoration from the menace of COVID-19. Unless your own definition of hope is to expose them to the virus and tell them that nothing will happen even as many lives have been lost.
…..IF THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST CANNOT BE CHALLENGINGLY AND RISKINGLY DECLARED NOW BY PRIESTS, PASTORS AND CHURCH LEADERS, WHY THE NOISE AFTER NOW??
Response: A practical example of the Lordship of Christ which you just mentioned is found in the parable of the lost sheep, whereby our blessed Lord ensured the safety of the remaining and fought for the lost. In the same manner, the Church leaders have gradually secured the healthy Christians and are attending to the sick ones both spiritually and otherwise. Therefore, after now, there should be noise of glory to God almighty.
……SCIENCE IS FAILING THE WORLD, TECHNOLOGY IS FAILING THE WORLD, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS FAILING THE WORLD. THE LAST HOPE OF THE WORLD IS JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH.
Response: This is true and indubitable.
……IT IS FOOLISH WISDOM TO SHIELD PEOPLE FROM CORONAVIRUS, AND EXPOSE THEM TO THE WRATH OF GOD IN EVERLASTING HELLFIRE.
Response: I humbly think it is wrong and illogical to conclude that the attempt to save human life is invariably exposing them to the wrath of God In everlasting fire. Therefore, it’s not a foolish wisdom but a selfless strategy to the preservation of the gratuitous gift of God which Is Life as well as a concretization of the other gift which is Faith.
THEIR BODIES ARE MORTAL, BUT THEIR SOULS ARE IMMORTAL.
……IT IS A FEARFUL THING TO FALL INTO THE HANDS OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD.
Response: I don’t understand. I would rather seek for a further clarification.
…..I WANT YOU TO KNOW AND BE ASSURED THAT CHRIST JESUS IN YOU IS THE ONLY HOPE OF GLORY, SAFETY, AND ETERNITY.
Response: I accept
…..WHILE YOU OBSERVE AND KEEP EVERY OTHER PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES FOR SAFETY, REMEMBER THAT THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS IS A STRONG TOWER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS RUN INTO IT AND THEY ARE SAFE AND PROTECTED.
Response: The precautionary measures that have been taken for safety, do not in anyway contradict the fact that JESUS is a strong tower through whom safety Is guaranteed. Meanwhile, we are most grateful to Jesus Christ who Inspired his Church to take this decision that will not only save life but has created an enabling environment for the improvement of individual and family spirituality.
Above all, thanks very much for raising these questions for possible clarification to the faithful who may be confused as well.