Cardinal John Onaiyekan, the former Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, on Thursday, emphasized the role of religion in fostering peace among citizens.
Specifically, he noted that shouting God’s name and killing people is not religion.
His Eminence made the emphasis during his 80th birthday celebration and book presentation in Abuja while highlighting a vision of religion as a force for unity and reconciliation, countering the narrative that it often serves as a catalyst for conflict.
Onaiyekan, renowned for his contributions to interfaith dialogue and peace-building efforts in Nigeria, expressed his contentment with the growing discourse on the necessity of peace for national progress.
“The country cannot make progress without peace in place,” he stated.
“They even blame religion for our situation. But my position is that true religion must be about peace.
“Whatever you do, even if you shout the name of God a thousand times, and you are hurting your neighbour and killing the innocent, that is not religion.
“If religion is presented in a way that is not peaceful, then it cannot succeed in bringing the peace we expect. Many talk religion but are talking war and conflict,” he added.
Senate President Godswill Akpabio, who spoke at the event said Onaiyekan’s unwavering commitment to justice, compassion, and unity has touched countless lives and inspired generations.
According to him, through the former archbishop’s unfaltering faith and dedication, he became a “beacon of hope, guiding his flock with love, compassion and unwavering integrity.”
“Cardinal Onaiyekan’s leadership and ministry have been marked by a resolute pursuit of justice and equality. In the face of injustice he has been a tireless advocate for the marginalised and the voiceless.
“It is not just his actions that inspire us; it is his words that resonate in our hearts. His Eminence possesses a rare gift of eloquence and a profound ability to unite people from all walks of life.
“His words have the power to heal; to bridge divides, and to ignite the flames of hope in even the darkest of times.
“His sermons have touched the hearts of millions, reminding us of our shared humanity and the inherent dignity that resides within each and every one of us.”