The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Yekini Nabena has threatened the party may be forced to report Spiritual Director of Adoration Ministry, Rev Fr. Ejike Mbaka, to the Pope and Vatican for allegedly committing acts capable of causing instability in the country.
The APC leader alleged recent calls for impeachment of President Muhammadu Buhari by the cleric were capable of instigating the people against their leader and cause disaffection for the government.
Mbaka, who in 2015 publicly endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari and repeated same for his reelection in 2019, recently in a church service called on Buhari to resign or the National Assembly should impeach him if he fails to resign over escalating insecurity.
The cleric had complained during a service that no civilised leader would remain in power with the spate of violence in the country.
“How can people be dying and the chief security officer of the country would be sitting down without making any comment?” he questioned.
He further complained: “Gunmen attacking people everywhere. Buhari should have resigned honourably following his (alleged) failure as a leader. Let me tell you that if it were in a civilised country, President Buhari would have resigned by now. So, it is amazing that he has chosen to sit tight while people are dying daily.”
He called on the National Assembly to impeach the President in the face of intense poverty and insecurity across the nation.
But Nabena, in a statement on Friday in Abuja, said it was unfortunate for a man of God “who is supposed to deploy all known spiritual means of averting crisis to be threatening a democratically elected government for his own personal benefit while pretending to be speaking for the people.”
He referred to Mark 4: 35-40 where Jesus Christ calmed the storm when a wild wind came up and the waves was about to crash the boat.
Nabena noted instead of complaining or blaming captain of the boat, Jesus prayed and calmed the storm.
“One will wonder whom Father Mbaka is emulating because the Lord Jesus Christ did not threaten to bring down the government during his own time. In fact, Jesus Christ obeyed and honoured constituted authorities. That’s why he paid his tax.
“We are calling on Father Mbaka to concentrate on his spiritual calling and stop speaking like politicians who it is obvious he (Mbaka) has been dining and wining with. If Mbaka has found another political ally, it is better to leave political message for politicians.
“Calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to either resign or be impeached because of the current challenges is ungodly. Father Mbaka should not, however, take his luck too far because there are lot to tell the Vatican and the Pope about his person and his sources of inspiration,” he said.
Nabena also called on other clerics to emulate the likes of Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and Pastor WF Kumuyi of the Deeper Life Bible Ministry and many others who will rather fast and pray to avert crisis instead of threatening the government of the day. (The Nation)
Pope Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions for the first time as pontiff while being interviewed for the feature-length documentary “Francesco,” which premiered Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival. The papal thumbs-up came midway through the film that delves into issues Francis cares about most, including the environment, poverty, migration, racial and income inequality and the people most affected by discrimination.
“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God,” Francis said in one of his sit-down interviews for the film. “You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”
While serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages. However, he had never come out publicly in favor of civil unions as pope.
The Jesuit priest who has been at the forefront in seeking to build bridges with gay people in the church, the Rev. James Martin, praised the pope’s comments as “a major step forward in the church’s support for LGBT people.”
“The Pope’s speaking positively about civil unions also sends a strong message to places where the church has opposed such laws,” Martin said in a statement.
Catholic Church teaching holds that gay people must be treated with dignity and respect but that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.” A 2003 document from the Vatican’s doctrine office stated that the church’s respect for gay people “cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.” That document was signed by the then-prefect of the office, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI and Francis’ predecessor.
Patrick Hornbeck, a professor of theology at Fordham University, said on CBSN that he didn’t expect to see church teaching change anytime soon because of Francis’ endorsement of civil unions.
“What the pope has done today in these comments is he’s given a permission slip to Catholics and to Catholic leaders who want to take that extra step, who want to be pastoral, as he’s been, in affirming LGBT people and their families and their loves, and that’s no small thing,” Hornbeck said. “We have to remember that there are places all around the world where to be gay is to be thrown out of your family, where it’s to be beaten, where to be trans is to take your life in your hands, and so the pope’s statements, I think, will have an important effect and need to be celebrated that way.”
One of the main characters in the documentary is Juan Carlos Cruz, the Chilean survivor of clergy sexual abuse whom Francis initially discredited during a 2018 visit to Chile.
Cruz, who is gay, said that during his first meetings with the pope in May 2018 after they patched things up, Francis assured him that God made Cruz gay. Cruz tells his own story in snippets throughout the film, chronicling both Francis’ evolution on understanding sexual abuse as well as to document the pope’s views on gay people.
Director Evgeny Afineevsky had remarkable access to cardinals, the Vatican television archives and the pope himself. He said he negotiated his way in through persistence and deliveries of Argentine mate tea and Alfajores cookies that he got to the pope via some well-connected Argentines in Rome.
“Listen, when you are in the Vatican, the only way to achieve something is to break the rule and then to say, ‘I’m sorry,'” Afineevsky said in an interview ahead of the premiere.
The director worked official and unofficial channels starting in early 2018 and ended up so close to Francis by the end of the project that he showed the pope the movie on his iPad in August. The two recently exchanged Yom Kippur greetings; Afineevsky is a Russian-born Jew now based in Los Angeles. On Wednesday, Afineevsky’s 48th birthday, the director said Francis presented him with a birthday cake during a private meeting at the Vatican.
But “Francesco” is more than a biopic about the pope.
Wim Wenders did that in the 2018 film “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word,” which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. “Francesco,” is more a visual survey of the world’s crises and tragedies, with audio from the pope providing possible ways to solve them.
Afineevsky, who was nominated for an Oscar for his 2015 documentary “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom,” traveled the world to film his pope movie: The settings include Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh where Myanmar’s Rohingya sought refuge; the U.S.-Mexico border; and Francis’ native Argentina.
“The film tells the story of the pope by reversing the cameras,” said Vatican communications director Paolo Ruffini, who was one of Afineevsky’s closest Vatican-based collaborators on the film.
Ruffini said that when Afineevsky first approached him about a documentary, he tried to tamp down his hopes for interviewing the pope. “I told him it wasn’t going to be easy,” he said.
But Ruffini gave him some advice: names of people who had been impacted by the pope, even after just a brief meeting. Afineevsky found them: the refugees Francis met with on some of his foreign trips, prisoners he blessed, and some of the gay people to whom he has ministered.
“I told him that many of those encounters had certainly been filmed by the Vatican cameras, and that there he would find a veritable gold mine of stories that told a story,” Ruffini said. “He would be able to tell story of the pope through the eyes of all and not just his own.”
Francis’ outreach to gay people dates to his first foreign trip in 2013, when he uttered the now-famous words “Who am I to judge,” when asked during an airborne news conference returning home from Rio de Janeiro about a purportedly gay priest.
Since then, he has ministered to gay people and transsexual prostitutes and welcomed people in gay partnerships into his inner circle. One of them was his former student, Yayo Grassi, who along with his partner visited Francis at the Vatican’s Washington, D.C., embassy during the pope’s 2015 visit to the U.S.
The Vatican publicized that encounter, making video and photos of it available, after Francis was ambushed during that same visit by his then-ambassador, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who invited the anti-same-sex marriage activist Kim Davis to meet with the pope.
News of the Davis audience made headlines at the time and was viewed by conservatives as a papal stamp of approval for Davis, who was jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The Vatican, however, vigorously sought to downplay it, with the Vatican spokesman saying the meeting by no means indicated Francis’ support for her or her position on same-sex marriage.
However, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was fervently opposed to same-sex marriage when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. Then, he launched what gay activists remember as a “war of God” against Argentina’s move to approve same-sex marriage.
The pope’s authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin, said at the time of his 2013 election that Bergoglio was politically wise enough to know the church couldn’t win a straight-on fight against same-sex marriage. Instead, Rubin said, Bergoglio urged his fellow bishops to lobby for same-sex civil unions instead.
It wasn’t until Bergoglio’s proposal was shot down by the conservative bishops’ conference that Bergoglio publicly declared his opposition, and the church lost the issue altogether.
Francis, in the new documentary, confirms Rubin’s account of what transpired. Of his belief in the need for legislation to protect gay people living in civil relationships, he said: “I stood up for that.”
Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, an organization of LGBT Catholics, praised Francis’ comments as a “historic” shift for a church that has long been seen as persecuting gay people.
“At the same time, we urge Pope Francis to apply the same kind of reasoning to recognize and bless these same unions of love and support within the Catholic Church, too,” he said in a statement.
However, more conservative commentators sought to play down Francis’ words and said that while secular civil unions are one thing, a church blessing of them is quite another.
In a tweet, conservative U.S. author and commentator Ryan Anderson noted that he and some of his colleagues had gone on record a decade ago saying they would support federal civil unions for any two adults who commit to sharing domestic responsibilities. Such an arrangement, Anderson said, would leave churches the option of refusing to recognize these unions as marriage.
Pope Francis used his Christmas message on Monday to call for a negotiated two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, after U.S. President Donald Trump stoked regional tensions with his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Francis spoke of the Middle East conflict and other world flashpoints in his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) address, four days after more than 120 countries backed a U.N. resolution urging the United States to reverse its decision on Jerusalem.
“Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders,” he said, referring to the Israelis and Palestinians.
“We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said in his address, delivered from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to tens of thousands of people.
It was the second time that the pope has spoken out publicly about Jerusalem since Trump’s decision on Dec. 6. On that day, Francis called for the city’s “status quo” to be respected, lest new tensions in the Middle East further inflame world conflicts.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future independent state, whereas Israel has declared the whole city to be its “united and eternal” capital.
Francis, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, urged people to see the defenseless baby Jesus in the children who suffer the most from war, migration and natural calamities caused by man today.
“Today, as the winds of war are blowing in our world … Christmas invites us to focus on the sign of the child and to recognize him in the faces of little children, especially those for whom, like Jesus, ‘there is no place in the inn,’” he said.
Francis, celebrating the fifth Christmas of his pontificate, said he had seen Jesus in the children he met during his recent trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh, and he called for adequate protection of the dignity of minority groups in that region.
More than 600,000 Muslim Rohingya people have fled mainly Buddhist Myanmar to Bangladesh in recent months. The pope had to tread a delicate diplomatic line during his visit, avoiding the word “Rohingya” while in Myanmar, which does not recognize them as a minority group, though he used the term when in Bangladesh.
“Jesus knows well the pain of not being welcomed and how hard it is not to have a place to lay one’s head. May our hearts not be closed as they were in the homes of Bethlehem,” he said.
He also urged the world to see Jesus in the innocent children suffering from wars in Syria and Iraq and also in Yemen, complaining that its people had been “largely forgotten, with serious humanitarian implications for its people, who suffer from hunger and the spread of diseases”. (The Sun)