A priest of the Catholic Church has stopped many of his parishioners from taking part in one of the most important sacraments/doctrines of the church over non-collection of their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) ahead of the February 25, 2023, presidential election in the country.
According to the report, the priest, identified simply as Rev. Fr. Okonkwo, in one of the Catholic dioceses in Anambra State, told his parishioners during an early morning service (Holy Mass), on Tuesday, January 17, that it is sinful for a citizen to neglect his civic obligation as stipulated by the law.
The priest, according to reports, asked those who had not collected their own PVCs to come up to the altar. When they did, the priest told them that henceforth, they should stop receiving the Holy Communion until such a time when they must have collected their voter cards.
The cleric further announced that any of them that goes secretly to receive Holy Communion in his parish or go somewhere else to do so without collecting his PVC has committed a mortal sin.
He wondered why Christians, at a time when Nigeria is in dire need of good leadership, should not get themselves ready to elect good-fearing leaders.
Citing Matthew 22:21, the priest said that even Jesus Christ himself was mindful of the governing authorities, and his civic duties, and urged the congregation and Christians in general to imitate the life of Christ.
To further buttress his point on the need for citizens, and Christians in particular, to do the right thing, Fr. Okonkwo also cited Ezra 7:26; Roman 13:11; Titus 3:1, and 1 Peter 2:13.
He said, “Nigeria is at the crossroads presently, and the world is looking unto Nigerians, and Christians in particular, to choose the best of leaders in 2023 to take the country out of its problems.
“Christians should be at the forefront. We should not be seen to be spectators. We must all go out to collect our voter’s cards and exercise our civic obligations. Not just doing so, we should use the power of our PVCs to enthrone credible leadership.
“Heaven helps those that help themselves. God will not come down from heaven to elect our leaders. No number of prayers for good leadership will work for us unless we select good leaders ourselves.
“The need to respect governing authorities is emphasized severally in the scripture. The need for Christians to perform their civic obligations is also emphasized severally in the scripture. Jesus led the way by paying His tax to Caesar. Therefore, Christians must follow Jesus’ example. Anyone that neglects his civic duty has committed sin.”
He further asked the federal and state governments to consider declaring public holidays and possibly shutting down markets for one day or two, to enable traders and government workers to collect their PVCs ahead of the closing date.
He told his parishioners, who were stopped from receiving Holy Communion, not to see his move as punishment, but as a call to do the right thing.
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