The Director-General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Campaign Council, Governor Simon Lalong, has apologized to the Catholic Church over his comments about the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
Lalong’s apology was contained in a letter he personally signed and addressed to the President, Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Archbishop Lucius Ugorji on Friday.
TheFact Daily gathered that the Plateau state governor had on Wednesday said “The Pope is not angry with my decision to be the DG of the Muslim-Muslim presidential campaign. I came back home and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) welcomed me at the airport”.
On Thursday, the President of Concerned Catholics in Nigeria (CCN), Dr. Ben Amodu, berated Lalong for dragging Pope Francis into the murky politics of Nigeria and the 2023 elections.
“The reference to the Pope in his statement for accepting to serve as the Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council was made in poor taste and a puerile attempt to drag the Catholic Church into a matter that has no bearing with the Pope.
“Therefore, Governor Simon Bako Lalong must consequently tender an unreserved apology to the Catholic Community in Nigeria for dragging the Pope into the murky waters of Nigerian politics. It remains unjustifiable and as much condemnable, he said.
However the governor admitted that he
overreached himself in trying to defend his decision in accepting the appointment.
According to him, “I have followed with some shock and deep regret, the reactions that have trailed my appointment as the Director-General of the Campaign Council for the Presidential Candidates of our Party, the All Progressive Congress, APC, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and lbrahim Shettima.
“The appointment, understandably was received with mixed reactions across the Christian community who genuinely feel aggrieved by the decision of our party to settle for a Muslim-Muslim ticket. While many people commended me for the appointment and saw it as a way of remaining within the system to fight for our own interests, others cast aspersions on it on the grounds that our faith had been insulted and denigrated.
“In the course of this, many of my opponents turned the issue into a political weapon with some spreading rumours and questioning the integrity of my credentials as a Catholic and a Papal Knight.
“In trying to make my case, I have granted interviews to justify why I believe that the appointment did not in any way undermine my commitment to the Catholic Church. During the week, in the course of defending myself, I had cause to make reference to my credentials as a Catholic and a Papal Knight. In the process, I made reference to the Holy Father.
“I now realise that this was an error on my part and has caused some level of concern and even embarrassment to many especially the Members of the family of Papal Knights to which I belong.
“I now understand that I may have overreached myself in the course of trying to defend my personal decision in accepting this appointment and thus, the reference to the holy father was not intended as an act of disrespect to his exalted and revered office.
“Your Grace, by this written letter, I wish to tender my unreserved apologies and ask for the entire members of the Bishops’ Conference, our Fathers and our Leaders.
“By their understanding and forgiveness from my brothers in the Catholic faith and, through you, commitment to the Catholic faith to which I belong remains unreserved and undiluted.
“I will continue to uphold the banner of my faith in public life as I have done over the years, facilitating our dialogue as politicians with you our fathers in the faith. I remain committed to this.
“You may recall Your Grace that in the last five or so years, I have been at the forefront of this and pray that you will continue to encourage us as we ascend the slippery slope of politics”.