Why we pulled out of CAN — Catholic bishops

Catholic Bishops of Nigeria
Catholic Bishops of Nigeria

The Christian Association of Nigerian, CAN, an umbrella body for the country’s teeming Christians, descended into full-blown crisis Wednesday with the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria making public its decision to pull out of the fold over  the way the Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor-led executive is running the association.

The Catholic bishop’s action is perhaps the first time in the  association’s 37-year history that any of its five blocs would pull out over alleged poor leadership and politicization of the association.

CAN was formed in 1976 by five Christian blocs in the country: the Christian Council of Nigeria; the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria; Organisation of African Instituted Churches, and the Evangelical Fellowship of West Africa.

But in a letter to Mr. Oritsejafor in September but made public Wednesday, the Catholics, one of the association’s most influential blocs, said it was temporarily exiting “over some recent attitudes, utterances and actions of the national leadership of CAN which in our opinion negate the concept of the foundation of the association and the desire of Our Lord Jesus Christ”.

The letter, dated September 24, 2012, is signed by Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama, President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBNC) and addressed to Mr. Oritsejafor.

Mr. Kaigama said his group was suspending “participation in CAN meetings at the national level until such a time the leadership of CAN reverse back to the original vision, mission and objectives  of CAN”.

Expatiating further on its grouse with the Oritsejafor-led leadership of the association, the bishops lamented that CAN had been politicized and was no longer being used to promote peace and unity in the country.

“CAN is being dragged into partisan politics thereby compromising the ability to play its true role as conscience of the nation and the voice of the voiceless,”  the bishops said.

Mr. Oritsejafor has often been accused of being divisive in the way he is running the association, often making comments in support of the Peoples Democratic Party-led federal government and President Goodluck Jonathan.

Some Christians believe he has pushed CAN into ignominy with his utterances and actions making Nigerians to regard the association as an arm of the PDP.

Mr. Oritsejafor became even more unpopular among his colleagues and around the country in late 2012 when he got a new jet as gift from unknown donors even as many more than 70 percent of Nigerians live below the poverty line.

He is yet to disclose the names of those who gave him the jet. But he maintained that the jet would enable him to travel  around Nigeria and the world for evangelism with little or no flight delay.

Read full letter below.


  • Arinze

    Catholics will never cease fighting Anglicans. They can’t stand that Anglicans are running the show now.

    • Richard

      SMH… Arinze you must be a moron. Did you read the article and CBCN’s letter at all?

    • p town man

      @Arinze: did u̶̲̥̅̊ attend a midnight school? Look for somebody t̶̲̥̅̊ợ̣̣̇̇̇ explain things t̶̲̥̅̊ợ̣̣̇̇̇ Ɣõu̶̲̥̅̊.

    • ferdyokwu

      @Arinze, on the contrary, Catholics are collaborating with Anglicans because they know where and when and how their separation came about. It may interest you to know that over 600 Anglican/Episcopalin priests have come back to THE CHURCH in both the U.S and Britain! You are a “left behind” with your posturing.

    • ugo

      Arinze u just show dat u chose to remain an uninformed or misinformed gossip. Misinterpreting somethin obvious.

  • Jude

    @ Arinze, you should have taken time to read the article before making your comment. there is no place that it was mentioned that they have issues with Anglicans, what they are saying is that the way the present CAN is being run as a political arm of the ruling party has become embarrassing to well meaning Christians.

  • Chybusky

    @Arinze, see how you sell yourself cheap, pls try read the article first or get someone to read and expalin it to you before commenting.

  • Bulus

    Premium Times will not stop showing their hate for GEJ. Why lie with Catholic church to say CAN president is supporting PDP when their letter never said such? Your media house is also involved in partisan politics just like Oritsejafor as your Ribadu and Rufai are part of your owners. Just report the truth without bending words to please your boss. For Catholic Bishops, I think they did the right thing cus Oritsejafor has lost the vision and mission just like most pentecostal pastors in Nigeria.

  • falaye oreoluwa

    Bravo catholics. Even though i was born christian but lost interest in religion matter since 1986 i always held catholic in high esteem for the way they fight in justice that rises frm government inrespective of who is holding power.

  • Frank Aghara

    I know it will come to this, that after the present leadership no penticoastal preacher will ever get that position again

  • jason jabez

    @Arinze i can see u r gay and hv bn matrimonized in the Anglican church by one of ur Gay Vicar! Where did u read bout Catholic fighting Anglican……? Catholics can’t ffight Anglicans nau…….u guys marry same sex and d bible does nt support tht! Meanwhile as a xtain I can’t comtinue to associate wth CAN wth Oristejaffor bn the head everytime I see him he strikes me like I see D’banj or Kanye west, men of God r meant to dress modest always, humility in God sight is a Virtue and gift of d holy spirit, do u know why ur vicars or priests wear cusac? Cos trends of fashion can never influence d robe/gown no matter hw costly a priest buys d yard for the garment its as good as china poply. Even if hv nt proven Oristejafor guilty of misconduct of leadership of CAN bt his public presence, utterance and contenance has de-valued any slight ounce of regard I cld ever have for him! Jesus Christ used feet, boat & donkey to preach d message &over 4billion hv heard of salvation oristejafor can barely boast of 1million convert!

    • Richard

      @Jason, can you not make your point without insulting Anglicans as a whole? Was that necessary?
      For your information, I am an Anglican, and I responded to Arinze earlier in this trail for speaking as a moron because what he said does not have any link whatsoever to the article we read. Also how do you know Arinze is gay? Intelligent and objective discussions or arguments are not held this way. Stick with the facts. Rofo-rofo discussions or arguments is low-life mentality and the responses from both sides continue endlessly without achieving anything for either side of the argument. Nonetheless you made some other good points though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Victor-Madubuaku/1662099675 Victor Madubuaku

    I think the Catholic Bishops are also playing politics too because I’ve not heard any of them threatening to pull their members out of Nigeria and yet we have serially had one of the worst successive Govts in Nigeria. I believe the present leadership of CAN has a tenure and it would have been more constructive to invoke sections of the CAN constitution to remove the leadership or wait out their tenure. The problem with us in this country is that we are being inundated by bad examples of poor leadership in all spheres of this nation and unfortunately even from Church leaders. The Catholic Bishops has once again shown another example of poor judgement!

    • ferdyokwu

      @facebook-1662099675:disqus, hear you: “The Catholic Bishops has once again shown another example of poor judgement!”
      Aren’t you playing Pontius Pilate?

  • Mr. Myle

    @Bulus- Although I always read from the said media you are criticizing however pls when you talk do not talk with sentiment. I guess the paragraph speaks for itself. in case you missed it wordings- read again-(Mr. Oritsejafor has often been accused of being divisive in the way
    he is running the association, often making comments in support of the
    Peoples Democratic Party-led federal government and President Goodluck
    Jonathan.Some Christians believe he has pushed CAN into ignominy with his
    utterances and actions making Nigerians to regard the association as an
    arm of the PDP.)
    As an anonymous reader I guess neither Ribadu or Elrufai that said the above. for Jesus sake why do we talk ignorantly and at the end fooling ourselves.

    Read- (Titus 3:7) so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

  • pgeorge

    @Victor Maduagwu. Division, disunity and divisive politics is not a fundamental of catholicism. The said letter dated Septemper and just made public last Wednesday, was not accompanied with a press conference (a trend Ayo himself has mastered) so your suggestion of a political stance is highly misplaced. The CBN on the contrary had taken a more expedient approach presumedly by invoking d part of the constitution that allows it to suspend or even withdraw its membership. Recall the activities of CAN was at a point spear headed by the now Cardinal John Onayekan and reports of disunity and rancour were very distant phenomena. For the sake of emphasis your analogy is laughable. Nigerian Catholics did not form Nigeria. Replacing a constant fundamental spiritual position with geographical location is ridiculous.

  • kanmi abimbola

    The Catholics are playing poliitics in a wrong way. The timing of their action just played into the hands of BH. Must a Catholic head CAN at all cost? Pastor Ayo may be a radical and radicals are the salt of the earth. He is not GOd. All other leaders are to work to support a country’s leader, not to antagonize him. Pastor Ayo has raised the profile of CAN in Nigeria and abroad. CAN is a political organization, a pressure group. Let’s stop hypocrisy.

  • Datti

    Despite my deep differences with Roman Catholicism, I agree with the pull out from CAN. What is CAN? A group that is built on greed and on many distortions. The leaders run after politicians for pecuniary reasons and pilgrimage to Jerusalem neglecting their so called ecumenism. Some demonic organizations use CAN to seek relevance and distort the body of Christ. But can they unite unless they agree? What has light got to do with darkness? What has mammon in common with Christ? CAN is built on quicksand and, it will soon wither away.

  • Muhammad Hamisu Yau

    Ayi dai mugani, addini ko siysa. May Allah save Nigeria

  • Ladidi

    May God help Nigeria it was never this bad. Christians, Muslims, pagans Buddhist, Hindus, atheist etc could live together without issues but now it’s always pointing fingers, insults, blames,disagreements Haba people what kind of country are we building for our kids and grand children? Please whatever we worship lets come together and pray hard for God’s intervention. May The Lord guide, protect and shower his mercies upon us.

  • Lanre

    At a time of crisis like this. the Catholic Church has not acted like Christians. Christians are being attacked and killed, churches burnt and destroyed and yet the Catholic Church decides to quit the recognized body for Christians. At a time like this, they should have prayed to see the christ-like in the leadership of CAN and wait for the next opportunity to effect a change in the leadership of the group. This action shows unnecessary divisiveness among christians at this critical juncture. In any case why not rotate the leadership of the organisation among the recognized blocs. Shame on the leaders of these Christian Bodies.