MESSAGE OF THE SECOND SYNOD OF THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF MAKURDI
TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD
1. In the fifty years of its existence, our Diocese, the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi has come a very long way. Created on June 28, 1960, we thank God for the many blessings it has received thus far and for the blessing it has been. The Catholic population is one million, three hundred thousand (1.3 m), there are two hundred and nine (209) indigenous clergy, sixty (60) members of the indigenous Religious Congregation, the Sisters of the Nativity; the Via Christi Society already has twenty two priests, seventy seven seminarians and one hundred and four lay members. Major seminarians of the Diocese are one hundred and ninety two (192); while there are several candidates for consecrated life, and many Catechists and Church Leaders. By the benevolence of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, Monsignor William A. Avenya was recently ordained Auxiliary Bishop to assist our overworked but tireless Diocesan Bishop, the Most Rev. Athanasius A. Usuh, thereby bringing the number of our indigenous Bishops to two. We congratulate our Bishop for shepherding the Diocese so well these past twenty two years; and we appreciate his Auxiliary for supporting him so loyally yet dynamically. We commend all the priests and religious and all the lay faithful of the Diocese for the great work they have done and continue to do in the Diocese. We acknowledge the many priests of Makurdi Diocesan origin incardinated in or ordained for other Dioceses and religious congregations. We acknowledge, as well, our sisters and daughters in women religious congregations in all parts of the world. We urge you all to continue to be good ambassadors of your home Diocese, while submitting with evangelical obedience to your immediate superiors.
2. We recall with respect, affection and gratitude the pioneer missionaries: the French, English, German and the Irish Holy Ghost Fathers and, along with them, the Irish and Canadian Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary, who first brought the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ to our land and prepared the ground for the cultivation of the true Faith. They worked under stringent conditions with a heroism that is akin to that of the holy martyrs. We remember most fondly the first two Bishops of our Diocese, Bishop James Hagan, CSSp and Bishop Donald J. Murray, CSSp, both of blessed memory. They continue to inspire us even today. How can we forget you the priests, religious and lay faithful of our Diocese who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith? Your great contributions still live with us. Rest in peace. Amen. We welcome and accept with gratitude all the members of religious congregations and all the priests from different dioceses who are on special assignment in our Diocese. May we all persevere in building up and sustaining the universality of the Body of Christ, the Church Family of God at the duty posts the Holy Spirit has assigned us.
3. Today there are seventy nine (79) parishes and independent missions, eleven (11) chaplaincies, forty two (42) Catholic secondary/technical schools, nine (9) Catholic hospitals, thirty two (32) primary health care centers and four (4) centres for physically challenged and gifted students, all spread across five deaneries in Makurdi Diocese. Two Dioceses Otukpo and Lafia have gone forth from Makurdi, and the Diocese awaits, with total submission to the judgement of Rome, the creation of Gboko and Katsina Ala Dioceses. We cannot thank the good Lord enough for all these. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who blesses us with all the spiritual gifts in the heavenly places.
4. Chosen from all the Catholic communities and all the religious groups in the Diocese, and representing them, we the delegates comprising the priests, the religious and lay faithful, gathered with and under the authority of our Bishop for the second synod of our Diocese on the theme, The Church in Makurdi Diocese: A Call to Service and Renewal; the Son of Man Himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mk 10: 45). We prayerfully reflected, as was the intention of our Bishop, expressed in his letter convoking the synod, and repeated in his homily at the opening Holy Mass of the synod, on new ways through which the Church can best fulfil its mandate of service in these challenging times.
5. As we approach the end of the synodal gathering, we issue the following message to the people of God, the Church Family of God in the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, and to all men and women of goodwill in our land, while awaiting the final document from our Bishop, the Most Rev. Athanasius A. Usuh.
Sacramental Life of the Church
6. We acknowledge the sacraments to be the life wire of the Church; without them the Church would not exist. The importance and centrality of these sacraments make them indispensable for Christian living. Instituted by Christ, these sacraments contribute immensely in the most effective manner to the establishment, strengthening and manifestation of ecclesiastical communion.
7. Baptism is the basis and spring board for all the other sacraments. It qualifies the recipient to participate in the life of the ecclesial community. The different problems encountered by those already baptised but not fully participating in the sacramental life of the Church, notwithstanding, its primacy cannot be contested. The Sacrament of Confirmation completes baptismal grace. It confers on those who have been baptized the gift of the Holy Spirit and makes them committed to their faith. This sacrament, as well as first Holy Communion, is given at the canonical age of seven. Availing oneself frequently of the Sacrament of the Lord's mercy disposes the recipient for fitting reception of Holy Communion.
8. The Eucharist is central to the life of the Church. It is, in fact, the source and summit of Christian life, as the Second Vatican Council teaches. It is the greatest of all the mysteries which Christ the High Priest Himself instituted. There is an encouraging participation of the faithful at Eucharistic celebrations in our Diocese. And neither is the number of communicants small. Though all Masses are healing in their essence, the practice of celebrating Holy Masses for the sick once every month, as the Bishop directed during the Chrism Mass of 1997, should be revived and/or continued. The reception of Holy Communion in the hand, preceded by conscientious pastoral education of adult lay faithful who will contribute to the reverent reception of the Sacrament.
9. Marriage is a vocation that binds couples together for life. Its celebration very often comes in conflict with cultural practices that threaten its validity. It is a prerequisite for the reception of Holy Communion for married couples. This is made difficult especially in polygamous relationships. We rise from this synod committed to a more renewed education on the sacrament as a permanent union ordained by God on the one hand, and a detailed marriage preparation for intending couples on the other. The three months mandatory course is effective in our Diocese, but we encourage that the instructors include lay experts in different fields of life. Like every other human endeavour, Christian marriages could experience difficulties. Those who encounter such difficulties are reminded that the Church, mother and teacher, remains ever close to them. We the priests must not shirk our spiritual duty and responsibility of assisting them through counseling and care. We admonish that the Diocesan marriage tribunal be reorganized and enabled to administer speedy justice in cases of marriages that need to be annulled.
10. A major concern is for women in polygamous marriages, who though baptised, cannot be admitted to Holy Communion. Since blanket permission cannot be given to them against the teaching of the universal Church, those in such unions should see them as opportunities to stand up for their faith and to strive earnestly and ceaselessly for the conversion of their spouses until it is achieved. We admit that this has been a long standing problem in the Church in Africa. At the same time, we encourage ourselves not to relent in our continuous search for a way of resolving the problem.
11. The formation and election of candidates for the priesthood is, in the final analysis, the collective responsibility of the entire Church Family of God. While we acknowledge the generous financial contributions of the lay faithful especially towards the training of future priests, we also point out that no member of the Diocesan family may shy away from making genuine inputs into the other aspects of their training.
12. Since the sacraments are so central to Christian life, we assert that adequate preparation for all of them is indispensable. It will be very profitable to give the catechumenate programme, especially the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), the seriousness it calls for by its very nature. No one may be arbitrarily denied the sacraments. Ones social status or economic disadvantage should never be an obstacle to the reception of the sacraments. Consequently, affordable standard stole fees will be very helpful. We remind the priests that the richness of sacramental life is enhanced by its proper celebration according to the prescriptions of the rubrics and rites. We remind the priests that presentable liturgical books and neat vestments together with clean vessels and linens are indicators of a commitment to proper worship.
13. Sacramentals are sacred signs which in a sense imitate the sacraments. They signify certain effects, especially spiritual ones and they achieve these effects through the intercession of the Church. And sacred objects set aside for divine worship by dedication or blessing are to be treated with reverence. They are not to be made to a secular or inappropriate use, even though they may belong to private persons. Although sacramentals are supposed to help us to grow in the Christian faith and vocation but unfortunately they are gradually but steadily being used by Catholics and non Catholics in the Diocese today as elements or objects of protection from the devil or from enemies. Let us continue to critically evaluate our understanding concerning the meaning and the use of sacramentals.
14. As the Code of Canon Law of the Church stipulates, only those who persevere in baptismal grace until death and catechumens may be given Christian burial. We enjoin each one of us to bear this in our minds and to prepare ourselves well for our proper burials while we are alive. We discourage the solid building of graves and subscribe to the designation of burial grounds away from residential areas and water sources that the well being and health of the living may not be endangered by non beneficial cultural practices. Evangelization/Proclamation in the Diocese of Makurdi Today
15. We are convinced that the first and most specific contribution of the Church to the people of our Diocese is to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. We are therefore committed to pursuing vigorously the proclamation of the Gospel to the people of our Diocese, for life in Christ is the first and principal factor of development, as Pope Benedict XVI says in Caritas in veritate (CV, 8). For a commitment to development comes from a change of heart, and a change of heart comes from conversion to the Gospel. In this light, we accept our responsibility to be instruments of reconciliation, justice and peace in our communities, ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20), who is our peace and reconciliation. In this regard, we recognize that all members of the Church, clergy, religious and lay faithful, must be mobilised to work together in the unity that brings strength. We are challenged and encouraged by the African proverb which says that an army of well organised ants can bring down an elephant.
16. We should not be afraid of, less still, be discouraged by, the enormity of the problems of our Diocese. We are encouraged and strengthened the most by the Holy Father's recent establishment of the Council for New Evangelization and his follow up call that new and hitherto unexplored ways of evangelization be sought out and employed.
17. The second Synod of the Diocese takes place at a time our country is celebrating fifty years of independence. While one can speak of some achievements since 1960, we are still confronted with recurrent challenges like poverty and disease, ignorance and illiteracy, political instability and incessant economic and social malaise, cultural practices that insult and debase women and so on.
18. In this regard, this synodal assembly addresses first the priests, who are the necessary and closest collaborators of the bishop as agents of evangelization. You must re-embark upon that primary duty of proclaiming Christ which you assumed at your ordination with fresh impetus, updating and renewing yourselves with knowledge both religious and secular. We encourage you to continue to take good care of your own health. The faithful of Diocese of Makurdi love their priests. We still need you very much. May your life expectancy be enhanced.
19. Next, we address you the religious. The Diocese appreciates your tremendous contributions in the areas of school and hospital and other social apostolates. This synod further calls on all to continue to recognize and support you.
20. We also address you, the lay faithful of the Diocese. Your effective witness in all the areas of human endeavour in which you live and work is apparent. Your great contributions in the Church as catechists, church leaders, and your active roles in men, women and youth organizations and in all the other pious societies are also there for all to see.
21. In a very particular way, we address you, our sons and daughters, the youth in our communities. You are not just the future of the Church, you are with us already in big numbers. You should be in the forefront of positive social change and instruments of peace. We feel the need to pay particular attention to you, young adults. You are often neglected, left adrift as targets for all kinds of ideologies and sects. You are the ones most often recruited and used for violence. We urge all of us in the Diocese to consider the apostolate to the youth a high priority.
22. The Lord Jesus Christ said, Let the little children come to me. To such belongs the kingdom of God (Mt 19:14). The Synod has not forgotten you our dear little children. You are always the object of our care and attention. But we also acknowledge and are anxious to positively use your enthusiasm and effectiveness as active agents of evangelization, especially among your peers. You shall be given adequate space, facilities and direction to organise yourselves for the apostolate. We recommend to you especially the Pontifical Mission Societies organization for children: the Holy Childhood Association. 23. We encourage you all priests, religious and lay faithful agents of evangelization, never to turn back from the course you are already taking, but to all the more seek new ways of even greater productivity. Therefore, the advocacy for pastoral care directed to groups such as widows, factory workers, football clubs, road transport workers, legislative houses, families and other groups, not traditionally emphasized, is very pertinent and timely.
24. This is not to say that those traditional structures of evangelization such as parishes, schools, hospitals and clinics, religious societies, pious organizations and the pastoral centre no longer retain their validity. On the contrary, they are the established tripods on which the new ones stand and are sustained.
25. The Pastoral Centre is a facility for the training and ongoing formation of pastoral agents. As it is now the centre does not fully take care of the above objective. The structures are inadequate. While it is true that more structures which take into consideration Makurdi weather are required, and that there is enough land for development, we encourage ourselves in the Diocese to so schedule our activities in such manner that we can also take advantage of the school facilities when the students are on holiday.
26. Pious organizations in the Diocese have achieved much as agents of evangelization and they are very vital for ongoing evangelization and Christian formation. We encourage these organisations to embark on diligent information of the lay faithful on their aims and objectives so that they do not appear to be competing with one another and dividing rather than uniting the Body of Christ. We, the faithful, on our part must be clear on which organizations we want to belong to and be committed to them. We urge that the translation works on the literature of these societies and movements be redoubled as a catalyst for the accelerated familiarization of our people with their content and style. Priests are admonished to intensify efforts at accompanying and nourishing the lay faithful in their efforts for spiritual growth. There can be no conversion, however, without pain; and there can be no growth without change.
27. The Diocese has contributed immensely to education. Our schools are among the best in Benue State. Authentic education must be integral and well rounded embracing both academics and an appreciation of the core values of life. We encourage that priests in training be involved in this noble venture as well. While commending the efforts of those involved in the school apostolate, we encourage them to double up. We appreciate the presence of Catholic pupils in non Catholic schools and extend to them the solicitude of this solemn assembly. Families must not discard the responsibility to educate their children; and we appeal to the government of our land not to deprive families of this fundamental right. All have acceptability in the Family of God, so we must not allow indigent children to go without proper education.
28. Without doubt, the time is long overdue for the establishment of a Catholic tertiary institution. This will be the bedrock of the entire Catholic education edifice as well as its guarantee for the future. The launching of the Diocesan Education Fund is already a big step in the right direction. We must all support this project as our own baby.
29. We all must not forget, however, that the Church evangelizes primarily through proclamation of the Word of God and sustains that proclamation through witness of life. We, the Church Family of God in the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, must be people properly rooted in the Word of God. The twelfth ordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops focused on the Word of God in the Life of the Church. The Second Vatican Council has given an important teaching Dei verbum on Divine Revelation. Those Catholics are commended who organise Bible study sessions in their homes to promote knowledge of the Word of God, even though they are non experts. This kind of study sessions may be multiplied in our homes and in our parishes and the priests could occasionally join in to support the limited knowledge of the lay faithful and to answer some of the questions they ask about the faith. We challenge our learned priests, religious and lay faithful to write commentaries on the Word of God and about our faith in simple language and even in the vernacular.
30. We commend the Diocesan Translation Committee in their very tedious and painstaking task, particularly in the translation of the Deutero canonical Books into Tiv. The entire Diocese looks forward to the publication and dissemination of the first drafts of the finished translations. Meanwhile, we praise the United Bible Societies and Bible Society of Nigeria for the existing Bibilo, the Bible in Tiv, and encourage every Catholic to own a copy and to read it often.
31. We restate that Catholic hospitals and clinics in the Diocese are not only places to provide medical care but also avenues to evangelize the people. For this reason, every patient should be treated with dignity and loving attention given to him/her. We earnestly acknowledge and appreciate the dedication of all the health workers in the Diocese and urge them on. We still urge the Christian faithful in the Diocese to pay regular visits to the sick within their vicinities. Priests of the diocese should also remain committed to their ministry to the sick. Christ is our model in the service to be rendered to the sick.
32. Healthcare facilities are opportuned common ground for partnership with the government. We appeal to government to take over payment of qualified personnel in Catholic healthcare facilities.
Social Justice, Peace and Development in the Church
33. Social justice, peace and development have always been the central concern of the Church in her mission in the world. She teaches humankind the demands of justice and peace in conformity with divine wisdom. The scripture speaks of justice as the gift of God and the supreme revelation of the salvific grace of God. It is God who justifies us through Christ. This means it is God who makes the sinner worthy of the relationship of communion and covenant with God and empowers him or her to render Justice. We renew the commitment of the Church in Makurdi Diocese to the promotion of justice and insist that peace in the world can only be achieved through the total development of the human person.
34. We admit that just wages are not paid to the employees of the Church. We decry particularly the unbecoming indigence and misery in which the ministers of the Lord are sometimes forced to live, both in cities and in remote rural areas. We regret as well the situation whereby many people in the employment of the Church live off less than what is reasonably sufficient to cater for even their very basic needs. We however enjoin those concerned to continue to bear patiently this situation which they have borne, some of them for so long, but we pray that this situation ends soon.
35. The Second Synod of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi highly acknowledges and appreciates Government partnership with the Church on issues of justice, peace and development. It praises Government efforts at the provision of security, education, healthcare services and social amenities for our people. Government may be aware the poor cannot afford to pay for the high cost of education and medical services in our land, the Church may, and sometimes must, come to the aid of indigent young men and women who cannot afford education and support them even to higher levels of education. For the State, this duty to the citizenry is an imperative.
37. The Church has always taught that all men and women, created in the image and likeness of God, are to be respected and their dignity upheld. There are so many cases of human rights abuses in our society, scholarships to deserving citizens where the Church and other Church personnel can be beneficiaries. This group may also accept employment offer from Government. However, we also bid that caution be exercised especially concerning the temptation of the clergy getting too deeply involved with the Government at the risk of undermining their primarily spiritual duty of cultivating the human heart. The Church Government partnership must be carried out within the framework of already established guidelines and practices if she is to be successful in carrying out her prophetic mandate as the voice of the voiceless.
36. Education is the bedrock on which development is harnessed and sustained. Through the effort of the Church and State, a lot of people have been liberated through education. Since the society today is against women, children and the defenceless. In other to eradicate discrimination, injustice and all forms of violence against women and children and to soften the patriarchal culture of the domination of husbands over their wives, the Church in Makurdi Diocese, rising from her second synod, resolves to be committed to exploring ways in which she can partner with the Benue State Government in the bid to eradicate this menace. We encourage the association of Catholic lawyers, with priests in its ranks, to champion this cause and to continue to fight cases of human rights abuses against the poor who cannot afford legal fees in cases of litigations.
38. Peace is a necessary condition for sustainable development. In fact, as Blessed Pope John XXIII taught, peace is another name for development. We commend the relative peace being enjoyed in Benue State and posit that dialogue and reconciliation be vigorously pursued to ensure that this peace becomes more qualitative. The Justice, Development and Peace Commission of the Diocese is doing very well and must not relent in its efforts but must continue to front for the Diocese in this area.
39. The absence of transparency and accountability can greatly frustrate efforts at enthroning the values of justice, development and peace. Church finances entrusted into the care of Church officials both lay and ordained must be kept in self custody. In instances where there are cases of lack of transparency in the management of Church finances and temporal goods, people's spirits are greatly dampened. Those entrusted with finances, whether in ecclesial communities or secular society, must be sincere, responsible, transparent and accountable. We call on political office holders, especially Catholics, to be more responsible with the resources at their disposal bearing in mind that all authority comes from God and that we are all stewards of the common good and will be called upon on the Last Day to give account of our stewardship.
40. Those are commended who imbibe the values of transparency and accountability and propagate them. Persevere in same and continue also to cultivate the attendant culture of hard work.
Dialogue and Reconciliation
41. We reiterate that peace is a necessary condition for sustainable development. Dialogue and reconciliation form the bedrock of development in any given society. No meaningful development can take place in a society replete with rancour, bitterness and wrangling.
42. It is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself Who outlines for His followers the steps of reconciliation: If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge (Mt18:15ff).
43. We thank God for the cordial relationship that exists among the people of God in Makurdi Diocese. This accounts for the heights the Diocese has attained both spiritually and structurally. That notwithstanding, the relationships between the clergy and the laity, between the priests themselves, and between the priests and religious could still be better. Where strained relationships exist, we must work hard to right them encouraged by the truth that there is always a possibility of reconciliation and healing.
44. The same spirit of brotherhood needs to be extended to the secular world. There is apparent peace in the State but that peace could be under serious threat. There is at present, the challenge of the lack of the presence of God in our world. We face so much hatred and bitterness even amongst brothers and sisters.
45. The initiative for all reconciliation and peace comes from God. As the Apostle Paul declares: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. This is done by his gratuitous gift of pardon without condition, not counting their trespasses against them" (2 Cor 5:17 20) and thus introducing us to his peace. In the same passage, St. Paul goes on to say that God is entrusting to us the message of reconciliation, and has indeed appointed us ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. This is the exalted mandate that we have received from our merciful and compassionate God. The Church in the Diocese of Makurdi, both as family of God and as individual faithful has the duty to be instruments of dialogue, peace and reconciliation, after the heart of Christ, who is our peace and reconciliation. Our Diocese shall be able to do this to the extent that she is herself reconciled to God. Our strategies for reconciliation, justice and peace in society must go beyond and deeper than how the world handles these matters. Like St. Paul, the Synod calls on all the people of Makurdi Diocese: "We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Cor 5:20). In other words, we enjoin ourselves to be reconciled to God. It is this that opens the way to genuine reconciliation among persons. It is this that can break the vicious circle of offence, revenge and counter attack. In all this, the virtue of pardon is crucial, even before any admission of guilt. True pardon promotes the justice of repentance and reparation, leading to a peace that goes to the roots of conflict, making friends, brothers and sisters out of former victims and enemies. Since it is God who makes this kind of reconciliation possible, we must give adequate place for prayer and the sacraments in this ministry, especially the Sacrament of Penance.
46. United we stand, divided we fall, they say. Unity is a source of great strength, while its absence wastes energies, frustrates efforts and gives room for enemies to neutralise our noble aspirations and worthwhile causes.
47. Each one of us bishop, priests, brothers, sisters, lay faithful must put issues of reconciliation, justice and peace high up on the pastoral agenda of our Diocese. We should ensure the establishment of a Justice and Peace Commission at all levels. We should continue to work hard on forming consciences and changing hearts through effective catechesis at all levels. This must go beyond the simple catechism for children and catechumens preparing for the sacraments. We need to put in place an ongoing formation programme for all our faithful, especially those in high positions of authority. Our Diocese must be a model of good governance, transparency and good financial management.
48. Finally, on issues of justice, peace, dialogue and reconciliation, we appeal to the Bishop as head of our local Church in Makurdi Diocese, to mobilise all of us Christ's faithful, and the rest of us to be involved in our appropriate roles in the planning, formulating, implementing and evaluating of Diocesan policies and programmes for reconciliation, justice and peace.
A Self Reliant Church
49. We have to continue to do our best to tackle poverty, which is a major obstacle to peace and reconciliation. Here suggestions for micro finance schemes deserve careful attention in spite of fears expressed with regard to the setting up of small and medium scale enterprises.
50. We acknowledge with deep appreciation the generous support of our laity. This support is still necessary for divine worship, apostolic and charitable works as well as the sustenance of our pastoral agents. Since the Church in Makurdi Diocese is growing more and more indigenous, it is all the more pertinent that the Church works towards becoming increasingly self reliant. 51. The unwavering commitment of the people to support the Church and their priests is clearly manifest everywhere around us in the Diocese. In spite of this determination, however, it must also be admitted that too many financial demands are made on them in the course of each year.
52. In order to lessen the incessant demands for levies and collection, this synod fully subscribes to the undertaking of income generation projects in the Diocese, but with reasonable caution. Proper accounting system and transparency are key ingredients for the success of this venture, since the collapse of every organization is generally occasioned by poor finance control and management. 53. One area to look into is the fertile and potentially rewarding domain of investing in the soil. Parishes could cultivate crops such as arable crops and palm tree plantations. We appreciate the Government of Benue State for the procurement and subsidy of fertilizers. We however, appeal that the State government makes fertilizers available to farmers on good time and to put in place modalities for ensuring that our people determine the prices for their produce and get good value for it. Another viable area of investment is in poultry, livestock rearing especially goats which are the cows of the poor man.
54. Another profitable area of investment is in real estate and housing. Parish communities could procure and modestly, but qualitatively, develop plots which in many rural areas of the Diocese are very cheap. This, besides contributing to improved housing at low costs to National Youth Service Corps members, teachers and other such category of persons, will double as long term investments. Land never depreciates; it only appreciates.
55. There is certainly nothing wrong with taking up these initiatives at the Diocesan level and even establishing inter Diocesan facilities with neighbouring sister Dioceses.
56. Seminars could also be organised on financial management and the laity encouraged to engage in mutual self, help launchings among the stations within the Parish or Mission. Knowledge empowers tremendously; it really does!
57. The formula for remission of a certain percentage of the income generated at the pastoral units to the Diocesan chancery remains a volatile issue and we all must continue to prayerfully but humbly search for a more agreeable solution. We must all bear in mind that after everything is said and done, it is the entrenchment of fairly distributed qualitative and quantitative development of the Diocese that is the real issue at stake.
Inculturation in the Church Today
58. Culture represents a consensus on a variety of meanings among members of an interacting group. Announcing the Gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ to all the peoples of the world is inconceivable without inculturation, which is understood to be the encounter of the Gospel with all cultures of the world, or better still, the encounter of the Good News with all the people of the earth through the instrumentality of their culture.
59. Fifty years after creation, inculturation in our Diocese ought to have been at a more advanced level than what obtains were there more commitment to it. The use of vernacular, traditional instruments, vernacular hymns, traditional dances and vestments in traditional fabrics in the liturgy as well as the use of vernacular names for baptism is encouraged.
60. We make it clear to those who always see only the negative side of things, and who view the success of inculturation in our Diocese with pessimism, that inculturation in this Diocese is the corporate responsibility of all of us, and that all hands must be on deck, no stone left unturned, until total success in this regard is achieved to the glory of God.
61. Language remains the principal medium, means and vehicle for the transmission of both the Gospel of the Lord and the culture of our people. We must take advantage of the recent advancements in the studies and development of the Tiv Language achieved by some bodies such as the Tiv Language Studies and Development Association (Mzoo u Zwa Tiv) and many competent individuals. While we continue to lobby for Government policy and practice, we must begin the teaching of Tiv Language in the Catholic and post primary schools in the Diocese.
62. Inculturation does not include reducing the Gospel of Christ to our culture, rather it is the incarnation of the Christian message in a particular culture, in such a way that this experience not only finds expression through elements proper to the culture in question but becomes a principle that animates, directs and unifies the Church and makes her a new creation. Research and study on inculturation must continue in our Diocese with renewed commitment. Social Communication in the Church Today
63. Communication is a vital tool for evangelization. In this regard, the Church has always used and encouraged the use of modern means of social communication. This is the teaching of the Council fathers of Vatican II: man's genius has with Gods help produced marvellous technical inventions from creation especially in our times. The Church is interested in those which directly touch mans spirit and which have open avenues for easy communication of all kinds of news, of ideas and orientation (Inter mirifica no. 1). The Second Makurdi Diocesan synod shares this idea too. We encourage Christs faithful of our Diocese: bishop, priests, brothers, sisters and lay faithful to make proper use of these means in preaching Christ.
64. We appreciate the efforts of the present management of the Diocesan Newspaper, The Catholic Star, and encourage it to cover more secular news in the paper. We also express our gratitude to those who have explored other means of communication; however there is need for improvement.
65. Though it is important to use the media to propagate the Gospel, this sector in the Diocese of Makurdi has faced several challenges through the years. Apart from the Catholic Star newspaper, other means of communications are hardly explored. Even with the Catholic Star, there are setbacks like lack of adequate patronage, shortage of trained personnel, lack of sufficient funds to run the office. Lots of parishes/institutions owe huge sums of money after sales. We re-emphasize that the Catholic Star newspaper and, in fact, the entire communications department of our Diocese is our corporate baby and, as such, the responsibility of every one of us.
66. We emphasize the necessity of having efficient public address systems in the churches within the Diocese, since this is one important means of proclaiming the Word of God. Following the theme of this synod: A call to service and renewal, a renewed interest in this sector by the Diocese, parishes, institutions and chaplaincies will be of great help and further the propagation of the Lords Good News to all parts of our Diocese and beyond, following the mandate of Christ to Go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19). Let us not give up on the aspiration of someday owning our Diocesan Television and Radio stations and a printing press, while using the Internet and other modern digital technologies appropriately.
67. The Ordinary of the Diocese, the Most Rev. Athanasius A. Usuh, in his concluding remarks for the Synod thanked all participants, especially Most Rev. William A. Avenya, Moderator of the Synod, for a job well done. Bishop Usuh further said that the implementation of the Synod propositions is the collective responsibility of all members of the Diocese. He charged us all to contribute so that we can achieve these goals, in order that our synodal gathering will be a worthwhile event.
68. We thank the Lord for the success and fruitfulness of this Synod. May He protect us from all harm. May we grow in holiness and sanctity through His grace. May He pour out His Spirit anew on all of us and may we be renewed in our commitment to selfless service in our various roles after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through this Synod, may the Lord teach us to listen to Him and may He grant us the courage to speak and care for the voiceless. May He be our source of strength and guide for a more effective Evangelization in our Diocese, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
69. We entrust ourselves anew to the maternal care of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. May her unfailing love never cease. Amen. (Note: This synod took place before the creation of Gboko and Katsina-Ala dioceses).