Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Cardinal John Onaiyekan has attributed religious dishar-mony in the nation to proliferation of ignorant ‘pastors and imams in the country.
He also raised the alarm over emergence of what he described as “overnight religious leaders” in the two main religions.
Cardinal Onaiyekan spoke in Ilorin at the first international conference by the inter-religious council of the University of Ilorin.
He said overnight religious leaders preached errors and led many people astray.
“We have a major problem these days in our country where it seems everyone can become a “religious leader” overnight, without any credentials. There are too many ignorant ‘pastors’ and ‘imams’ preaching errors and leading many people astray.
“Perhaps this is the price we have to pay for the freedom of religion that we enjoy. But surely a line should be drawn somewhere, especially when national order and harmony is at stake,” he said.
In his paper titled religious harmony and nation building, the
cleric said that religious harmony must be achieved in the nation to build a strong and united society.
He also canvassed training and restraining of religious leaders to ensure preaching that would encourage religious harmony among adherents of religions, particularly in local communities.
“For a long time, humanity lived in closed religious communities, with not much to do with others, who perhaps have their own faith, generally considered as erroneous and false.
“But now that globalisation has packed us into a global village, we are faced with the fact of plurality of religions, all of us calling on the same One God.
“There is need for a radical theological updating of our ideas of God and our faith, in such a way that we can accommodate others, just as God Himself has accommodated all of us.
“This does not have to lead to doctrinal compromise or watering down of our convictions.
“It simply means we recognise that God is far greater than our ideas of him and consequently than our religions, no matter how sublime we think they are.”
Secretary General of the Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and JAMB registrar, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, called on Nigerians to concretise interfaith relationship to achieve the purpose for which religion was institutionalised.
He added that multi-religious nature of Nigeria is a divine design of the Creator to test whether mankind would be able to harmonise its differences or not.