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Catholic priest condemns practice of making women swear on dead husbands

The Parish Priest of St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Gwagwalada in Abuja, Rev. Fr. Gabriel Ekpe, has condemned the traditional practice of making women swear on their dead husband’s bodies.

Ekpe, during the inaugural Cultural and Feast Day celebration with a theme: “Unity in Diversity: A Moment of Celebration”, asserted that these practices were contrary to the teachings of the Church.

He stressed the importance of embracing the positive aspects of African culture, such as respect for elders, hospitality, communal life, and reverence for the sacred, which had been integrated into the Christian message.

According to him, the Church does not oppose culture, but rather seeks to integrate the beautiful aspects of African culture while discarding the negative ones.

“The Church is not against culture. For instance, the beautiful aspects of our African culture such as respect for elders, hospitality, communal life, respect for the sacred etc have all been integrated into the Christian message.

“Whereas, the wrong aspects of our culture such as human sacrifice, idol worship, making a woman to swear on a dead body in the event of the husbands death etc are all shunned by the Church,” he said.

The priest emphasised the importance of celebrating the different cultural identities in Nigeria, especially in view of contemporary times when culture was fading away.

He further highlighted Jesus Christ’s immersion in Jewish culture during his life, noting that Christ also challenged and corrected harmful cultural norms, such as retaliation.

“Jesus Christ himself was born into the Jewish culture and right from his childhood to his death, he moved according to the Jewish culture.

“We are told that his dedication was according to Jewish custom(Lk 2:22) and his burial, it was done following the Jewish burial custom (Jn 19: 40).

“On the contrary, the same Christ corrected aspects of the Jewish culture that were not correct like “an eye for an eye and tooth for tooth that contradicted the message of love which he brought.

“That is what Christianity everywhere is expected to do.

“Finding herself on the African soil, ours is to Africanize Christianity and Christianize Africanism,” he said.

He explained further that the event was a call to celebrate identity and by extension, unity, considering the metropolitan nature of the Church.

Mrs Sylvia Inyang, Chairman of the Cultural and Feast Day planning committee, explained that in the Catholic terminology, the event is called “Enculturation” where the diversity of cultures were incorporated into the church and share the good news of Jesus Christ in the society.

“This first ever cultural and feast day celebration since the creation of St. Paul’s Catholic Parish, Gwagwalada Abuja with theme: “Unity in Diversity: A moment of celebration ” is apt .

“A time when our dear country Nigeria is bedevilled with all forms of of insecurity ranging from kidnapping, banditry, terrorism and religious intolerance that suggests disintegration.

“It is our collective responsibility as a religious community and citizens to promote and pray for peace and unity in season and out of season following the example of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ,” she said.

Other highlights of the event were the presentation of three award categories; platinum, diamond and gold to outstanding parishioners for their tremendous contributions to the growth of the Parish.

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