Lalong writes to Catholic bishops and asks forgiveness for the pope’s comment
The Chief Executive of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, has written a letter of apology to the leader of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, following his comment from the Pope.
The appointment of Mr. Lalong to “market” the presidential ticket of the same faith as Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima has been criticized by many leaders, especially Christians in the North.
On Tuesday, during an interview at the State House after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Lalong justified his appointment as CEO of the council by referring to the Pope. He claimed that the Pope did not complain about his appointment.
He added that as a Catholic he had one of the highest honors “Knight of Saint Gregory the Great” from the Pope.
Some aggrieved members of the Catholic Church, at a press conference in Abuja, called on Mr. Lalong to issue an unqualified apology for dragging the pope into local politics.
The chairman of Concerned Catholics in Nigeria, Ben Amodu, said the governor had caused global embarrassment to the head of the Catholic Church with his “reckless” remarks.
Mr. Lalong had said on Wednesday that his reference to the pope was not meant to ridicule Christians.
Mr. Lalong’s letter was addressed to the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, Lucius Iwejuru.
In the letter dated August 12, the governor apologized for dragging the pope into Nigerian politics. He said his political opponents took the opportunity to question his Catholic credentials.
Mr Lalong said he realized he had gone too far by referring to the pope during the interview.
He therefore apologized and asked for the understanding and forgiveness of the Catholic Church.
“I now realize that this was a mistake on my part and has caused a level of concern and even embarrassment to many, especially members of the Knights Pontifical family to which I belong. I understand now that I may have overstepped my bounds in trying to defend my personal decision to accept this appointment and therefore the reference to the Holy Father was not intended to disrespect his exalted and venerated office.
“Your Grace, through this written letter, I wish to offer my unreserved apologies and ask for their understanding and forgiveness from my brothers in the Catholic faith and, through you, to all the members of the Episcopal Conference, our Fathers and our Leaders . My commitment to the Catholic faith to which | belong remains without reserve and without dilution. I will continue to carry the banner of my faith in public life as I have done over the years,” Mr. Lalong said.
Read the full letter…
1. I have followed with some shock and deep regret the reactions that followed my appointment as Director General of our party’s Presidential Candidates Campaign Council, the All Progressive Congresses, APC, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and Ibrahim Shettima. The nomination naturally drew mixed reactions from the Christian community who feel genuinely aggrieved by our party’s decision to settle for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. While many people congratulated me on this appointment and saw it as a way to stay in the system to defend our own interests, others decried it on the grounds that our faith had been insulted and denigrated.
READ ALSO: Muslim/Muslim note: the Pope is not against my appointment as DG, APC Campaign Council – Gov Lalong
2. During this, many of my opponents turned the issue into a political weapon by spreading rumors and questioning the integrity of my credentials as a Catholic and a Pontifical Knight. In trying to make my point, I have granted interviews to justify why I believe the appointment has in no way undermined my commitment to the Catholic Church. During the week, during my defense, I had reason to refer to my credentials as a Catholic and a pontifical knight. In the aftermath, I made reference to the Holy Father.
3. I now realize that this was a mistake on my part and has caused a level of concern and even embarrassment to many, especially members of the Knights Pontifical family to which I belong. I now understand that I may have overstepped my bounds trying to defend my personal decision to accept this appointment and therefore the reference to the Holy Father was not intended to disrespect his exalted and revered office. .
4. Your Grace, through this written letter, I wish to offer my unreserved apologies and ask for their understanding and forgiveness from my brothers in the Catholic faith and, through you, from all the members of the Episcopal Conference, our Fathers and our Leaders . My commitment to the Catholic faith to which | belong remains without reserve and without dilution. I will continue to uphold the banner of my faith in public life as I have done over the years.
5: You may recall, Your Grace, that for the past five years or so I have been at the forefront of facilitating our dialogue as politicians with you, our fathers in the faith . I remain committed to this and pray that you will continue to encourage us as we climb the slippery slope of politics. While seeking your episcopal blessings.
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