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Participants at the Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria (CABAN). Participants at the Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria (CABAN). 

Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria deliberates on War and peace in the Bible.

Nigeria’s emeritus Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese, John Cardinal Onayikan, has said that no one should ever use the Bible to justify any form of killing of innocent people.

Sr. Mary Judith Ezeogu – Vatican City.

“Let no one use the Bible, the Word of God, whether New Testament or Old, to justify any acts of killing of innocent people,” Cardinal Onayikan has asserted. 

War and Peace in the Bible

The Cardinal emeritus Archbishop of Abuja recently spoke at the 16th Conference of the Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria (CABAN) held at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (C.S.N.) Durumi, Abuja.

Under the theme – War and Peace in the Bible, the association’s Biblical experts and theologians deliberated long on topics, books and passages of the Bible. According to a communique, the association’s members intended to “examine the Biblical concept of war and peace with a view of extending some solutions to contemporary conflicts.”

The conference started with an opening Mass celebrated by the Auxiliary Bishop of Abuja, Anselm Umoren, M.S.P.N. Concelebrating were Cardinal Onayikan and the Bishop of Lokoja Diocese, Martin Olorunmolu. The latter are both members of CABAN. Several other priest members and religious were present.

A timely and relevant discussion

Fr. Raphael Ezeogu, a member of CABAN told SA国际传媒 that the President of the association, Sr. Theresa Okure, in her speech to participants, expressed how providence had shaped the choice of the theme under discussion at the conference. She said it was a very timely gathering in relation to the wars in the world at present. 

The President, Sr. Theresa Okure, belongs to the Society of the Holy Child Jesus congregation. She is a professor of New Testament and Gender Hermeneutics at the Catholic Institute of West Africa (C.I.W.A.), Port-Harcourt.

The Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Fr. Zacharia Samjumi and some of the Catholic Secretariat staff participated in the opening Mass of the CABAN Conference.

Today’s context through the eyes of scripture

The presentations by the members during the Conference reflected the chosen theme. Some of the thought-provoking topics treated included, Assessing the Love-Hatred Duel in the Johannine Community; Jesus the Cause of Division? as presented in  Luke 12:49-53. There were many others.

During the meeting, CABAN participants dealt with about twenty other similar topics. The discussions and papers presented were all based on Scriptural contexts and related to the happenings in the world of today. 

About Peace in the Bible

Cardinal Onayikan in his paper, ‘On Peace in the Bible: What message For the On-going Gaza Tragedy? pointed to the fact that we cannot ignore “horrible belligerent activities going on and claiming the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children with no sign of stopping.”  He recognised the certainty that the War and hostility in Israel and Palestinian today did not start from the day Hamas militants killed hundreds of people in Israel on the 7 October.

The Cardinal remarked that although the Bible speaks of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” what is happening now has gone beyond “an eye for an eye.” If there must be vengeance there should be limits to that but what is unfolding in the land of the Bible has gone beyond limits the Cardinal said. 

Participants of the Conference of the Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria (CABAN).
Participants of the Conference of the Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria (CABAN).

Peaceful dialogue not War

Nevertheless, in the midst of the tragic conflict in the land of the Bible, the Cardinal maintained that it is a contradiction and a lie to claim to be pursuing peace and security through violence and War. He argued that “peaceful dialogue is more effective and cheaper in resolving war than armed confrontation.”

If we can hate, we can also love

At the end of the conference, CABAN came up with the resolutions that conflict and War have been defining elements of human history and the Bible is full of examples of it.

Again, these wars are primarily caused by divergent interests between parties. Some of the interests are rooted in beliefs and other reasons. One of the major causes of War is inherent hatred and rivalry which has been handed down from generation to generation over centuries. Nonetheless, if we can learn to hate we equally possess the capacity to love. 

One of the highlights of the Conference was the election of a new President.  Sr. Mary Jerome Obiorah, I.H.M.

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30 November 2023, 14:46