Right Reverend Hilary Dachelem is the Bishop of Bauchi Catholic Diocese. In this interview by Ishola Michael, he speaks about the responsibility of the Church on the present situation in the country as well as the importance of family health. Excerpts:
The Church is expected to be a safe haven where anyone can find solace, but the story is not a smooth one. Do you agree that the Church has failed in its pastoral care and counselling role?
The Church has not failed, but there might a serious lacuna. May be the Church needs to do more and ensure that the body of Christ turns back to God. We have what we call confession in the Catholic Church. It is another opportunity for people to reconcile, reintegrate or reunite themselves with the Church. On the larger scale, it is paramount for all Christians to see the need to live a righteous life and uphold the biblical principles and the commandments of God as a body of Christ.
Would you say that the Church still maintains its stands as a place of solace from all the adversities of the world?
Not in all cases. I am also part of the Church and I did not chase people. We should always be mindful of the fact that the Church is for the Saints and sinners. So, these two categories make up the Church. Again, we should also not forget that we human beings are the church and not the edifices. A composite of different people, conglomerates together in faith, but some of us are unfinished products as well as half-baked or half-converted, while some fully converted. We also have those that are ready for Christ and those who are not so that is what makes the Church. The Church has not lost its place at all, it is we humans that are not upright in doing the will God as well as not complying with God’s ordinance. The Church is an open haven that is ready to accept all and sundry for a transformed life.
Why is it that Christianity today lays more emphasis on cathedral than soul, what really led to this?
You are very correct. There is a lot of emphasis now on the physical edifice rather than spiritual, the shift is over the period. Modernization and some bits of materialism penetrated the Church, but again you know faith is something to be manifested not hidden, so, when we have the faith, we try to manifest in the outside so it is a visible testimony to tell you that the Church is really gaining root in our land. We religious leaders need to be careful to balance this area. It is important to pay attention to building the person; building the person’s faith without building the person will not make sense. Recently, I instituted a programme called Faith Based Interaction (FBI), I gather people twice in a month. We converge to share ideas on any theme in the area of our faith. My focus is to build people spiritually and not the physical edifice. Religion is not about contributing money or forming association; its main focus is transforming lives positively and nurturing people in the way of the Lord and all other things shall be added unto us.
It is no news that we have Christians in places of authority in Nigeria, yet the Church is being persecuted and they are keeping silent, what is your take on this?
Persecution and speaking about it are two different things. I know what you are talking about, especially in the areas bordering on equity, justice and fundamental human rights and the rule of law. Personally, I feel it is the responsibility of everybody, not just the Church, the human rights, the case of justice, the rule of law, all these are responsibilities of all normal persons because inside each of us is what is called conscience and God distributed this conscience evenly to everybody and with the power of the conscience we are able to perceive certain realities, there is what we call universal norms of movability and this universal norms of reality, a Muslim is capable of perceiving that moral role, a Christian is capable of perceiving that moral role. These things are not necessarily Christian’s issues alone; they are universal issues relating to consciousness, there is what we call universal norms of morality, which applies to all human beings.
What is the importance of family planning to the Church?
The Church has its own ethics when it comes to the area of family planning and it has its own ethnically accepted method for family. The Church can only guide as well as educate people, but in my own case I am not married, so, I wouldn’t know much about family planning. I don’t have a wife.
What is your take on the high rate of unemployment in the country?
Nigeria needs a strategic plan because all the unemployment issues and the situation of the country have made us realise the need to fall back on small and medium enterprises. Government jobs are not increasing, but the population is increasing. We need to get our priorities right as a nation, the leadership of the country needs to give hopes to the younger generation because that is where the future of Nigeria lies.
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