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General News of Saturday, 13 August 2022

Source: www.premiumtimesng.com

Muslim/Muslim Ticket: Lalong writes Catholic Bishops, begs for forgiveness over Pope comment

Simon Lalong Simon Lalong

The Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, has written a letter of apology to the head of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, over his Pope comment.

Mr Lalong’s appointment to ‘market’ the same faith presidential ticket of Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima has been criticised by many, particularly Christian leaders 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 DG of the council by referencing 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 awards “Knight of Saint Gregory the Great” from the Pope.

Some aggrieved members of the Catholic Church, at a press conference in Abuja, asked Mr Lalong to tender an unreserved apology for dragging the Pope into local politics.

President of the Concerned Catholics in Nigeria, Ben Amodu, said the governor caused the head of the Catholic Church global embarrassment with his ‘unguarded’ remarks.

Mr Lalong had on Wednesday said his reference to the Pope was not meant to ridicule Christians.

Apology Letter

Mr Lalong’s letter was addressed to the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, Lucius Iwejuru.

In the letter dated 12 August, the governor apologised for dragging the Pope into the politics of Nigeria. He stated that his political opponents have taken the opportunity to question his Catholic credentials.

Mr Lalong said he has realised that he overreached himself by making reference to the Pope during the interview.

He, therefore, apologised for and asked for the understanding and forgiveness from the Catholic Church.

“I now realise that this was an error on my part and has caused some level of concern and even embarrassment to many especially the Members of the family of Papal Knights to which I belong. I now understand that I may have overreached myself in the course of trying to defend my personal decision in accepting this appointment and thus, the reference to the holy father was not intended as an act of disrespect to his exalted and revered office.

“Your Grace, by this written letter, I wish to tender my unreserved apologies and ask for their understanding and forgiveness from my brothers in the Catholic faith and, through you, the entire members of the Bishops’ Conference, our Fathers and our Leaders. My commitment to the Catholic faith to which | belong remains unreserved and undiluted. I will continue to uphold 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 have trailed my appointment as the Director-General of the Campaign Council for the Presidential Candidates of our Party, the All Progressive Congress, APC, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and Ibrahim Shettima. The appointment, understandably was received with mixed reactions across the Christian community who genuinely feel aggrieved by the decision of our party to settle for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. While many people commended me for the appointment and saw it as a way of remaining within the system to fight for our own interests, others cast aspersions on it on the grounds that our faith had been insulted and denigrated.

2. In in the course of this, many of my opponents turned the issue into a political weapon with some spreading rumours and questioning the integrity of my credentials as a Catholic and a Papal Knight. In trying to make my case, I have granted interviews to justify why I believe that the appointment did not in any way undermine my commitment to the Catholic Church. During the week, in the course of defending myself, I had cause to make reference to my credentials as a Catholic and a Papal Knight. In the process, I made reference to the Holy Father.

3. I now realise that this was an error on my part and has caused some level of concern and even embarrassment to many especially the Members of the family of Papal Knights to which I belong. I now understand that I may have overreached myself in the course of trying to defend my personal decision in accepting this appointment and thus, the reference to the holy father was not intended as an act of disrespect to his exalted and revered office.

4. Your Grace, by this written letter, I wish to tender my unreserved apologies and ask for their understanding and forgiveness from my brothers in the Catholic faith and, through you, the entire members of the Bishops’ Conference, our Fathers and our Leaders. My commitment to the Catholic faith to which | belong remains unreserved and undiluted. 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 in the last five or so years, 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 ascend the slippery slope of politics. While soliciting your episcopal blessings.

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