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Lalong Tenders “Unreserved Apology” To Catholic Church, Faithful, Leadership For Dragging Pope Into His Defence Of Muslim-Muslim Ticket

By Sonia Odigie

The Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, has apologized to the Catholic Church, Faithful and leadership for dragging His Holiness, Pope Francis, into his defence of acceptance of the appointment of Campaign Director General of the Muslim-Muslim ticket of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shettima.

In a ‘Letter of Apology’ signed by the Governor and addressed to Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, Archbishop of Owerri and President of Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Lalong tendered his “unreserved apologies and ask for their understanding and forgiveness from my brothers in the Catholic faith and, through you, the entire members of the Bishops’ Conference, our Fathers and our Leaders.”

The Governor, who is also the chairman of Northern Nigeria Governors Forum also admitted: “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.”

Lalong said that despite the situation arising from his defence of the Muslim-Muslim ticket issue, “my 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.”

The full letter by the Governor to Archbishop Ugorji reads: 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 Ibrahim 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 their understanding and forgiveness from my brothers in the Catholic faith and, through you, the entire members of the Bishops’ Conference, our Fathers and our Leaders. My 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.

“You may recall, Your Grace that in the last five or so years, | have been at the forefront of facilitating our dialogue as politicians with you, our fathers in the faith. I remain committed to this and pray that you will continue to encourage us as we ascend the slippery slope of politics.”

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