With less than one year to the 2019 general elections , the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, on Tuesday warned Catholic clergy or laity (members) against public endorsement of any candidate for political office .
The organisation also warned that ecclesiastical properties should not be used as a platform for the support of any political candidate or political party.
The clerics said they took the decision because of the political tensions and realignments currently taking place and the gale of defections by politicians to different political parties .
The CBCN also called on Catholics to recite the Prayer for Nigeria in Distress, which it composed during the military rule at all masses and other liturgical celebrations .
The CBCN issued the warnings in a statement by its President and Archbishop of Benin City , Augustine Akubeze , and Secretary and Bishop of Ikot Ekpene , Camillus Umoh. The statement was obtained by The PUNCH in Jos on Tuesday .
The directive was issued to Catholic Bishops and Major Superiors of Institutes of Consecrated Life , Catholic Priests , consecrated men and women and the Catholic Lay Faithful.
The statement partly read , “We , the members of the CBCN , as teachers of the faith and morals do have the serious obligation to educate our faithful on their role in the political life of the country.
“We have observed that the political atmosphere is very tense and also noticed the political realignments that are taking place . Some politicians are changing political parties and urging their supporters to switch over their support to their new parties as well.
“Given this development , we wish to use this opportunity to make it clear that the Catholic Church remains ever apolitical and does not endorse or subscribe to any political party.
“Consequently , we hereby declare that no Catholic clergy or laity should publicly endorse any candidate for political office . Liturgical ceremonies must never be used as an opportunity for political campaigns .
“ Similarly , ecclesiastical properties should not be used as places for support for any political candidate or party . All priests and laity should avoid giving the impression that the church favours one candidate over another or one political party over another .
“These are difficult times in the history of Nigeria . As people of faith , we must work hard and also pray hard for the future of Nigeria. During the military rule, the CBCN composed the Prayer for Nigeria in Distress. Dearly beloved in Christ , Nigeria is in distress . We consequently, call on Catholics to recite this prayer at all masses and other liturgical celebrations .
“We entrust Nigeria into the hands of God and implore Him to improve the situation in our country . May God intervene in the life of Nigeria once again , so that we can enjoy true peace , justice, and prosperity . ”