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Give thanks for Nigeria’s young Christians

SIR – Festus Iyorah (Feature, February 2) suggests that young educated Nigerian Catholics are leaving the Church, preferring the apparently more Jesus-centred, Spirit-filled, Bible-based ecstasies of Pentecostalism. Interestingly, those he interviewed nearly all bear Igbo names. A hundred years ago “Igboland” was an area of rapid Catholic growth; young Catholic Igbos today often have several generations of Catholic affiliation behind them.

Personally, I find that there is still much to be thankful for if many young Nigerians, like their Latin American counterparts (Cover story, January 26), are tempted to follow this path. Unlike so many in the West they are often strongly religious, and do not embrace atheism. Nor do they turn to Islam. They do not condemn the Catholic Church for its handling of cases of child abuse, or for its teaching on issues of sexuality (with which they often agree). Rather, as the article suggests, a common problem is Catholic teaching concerning Mary. Their fellow Catholics, clerical and lay, have a duty to discuss such matters with them, and they need to be well informed themselves.

In my house here in Jos, “morning devotions” sometimes brings together for Bible-reading and prayer three Catholics, four mainstream Protestants and one Pentecostal. The latter, an ex-Catholic, said he found Catholic worship too “ritualistic”. He does not pray in tongues. We Catholics do not say the Hail Mary, but we make the Sign of the Cross.

We all joyfully affirm that Jesus is Lord; and thus we begin a new day in the way that every human being ought to begin it.

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