The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, has said that the Catholic Church does not rely on tithes from members for its existence.
Bishop Ezeokafor stated this on Sunday when he took delivery of the 48 en-suite building donated to the diocese by its members living in Lagos at the Retreat Centre, Okpuno Awka on Sunday.
The Catholic prelate said that the statement attributed to Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State that Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) was angry with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration because looters no longer paid tithes was unfortunate and selfish.
He said that the governor should have addressed the issues raised by the CBCN rather than trying to scandalise the church which he said did not dwell on the doctrine of tithing.
Ezeokafor said: “Tithe is not a doctrine in the Catholic Church, it is private to the individuals and you know it is an Old Testament way of life for believers.
‘You cannot get at the Catholic Church talking about, the truth is that if we tell people to bring 10 per cent of their income and they all bring it as a matter of law, this diocese will be heaven.
‘The Catholic Church does not want to multiply the sins of the people because if you make tithe a law and they don’t bring it, it becomes a sin, just as in the case of Ananias.
“We see the statement of Governor Yahaya Bello as just trying to distract the people, the church has told the president the truth, if he likes let him listen.
‘Let them address the issues that were presented during the visit – need for equitable appointment, need for equal security for all Nigerians, the need to protect both the farmers and the herdsmen.
“Nobody should talk about tithe here, how much is the person paying, the governor in question is not even a Christian so he is not even competent to discuss it. Let us tell ourselves the truth, these politicians should stop being selfish, their interest is what is important to them, they are ready to hit whatever will stand in the way of their selfish interest,’ he said .
Bishop Ezeokafor thanked the Lagos-based members of the diocese over the completion of the Retreat Centre building, adding that it would make for conducive interaction between God and man in meditative prayer.
‘As an Auxiliary Bishop I conceived the idea of this Retreat Centre here because it is a spiritual house; it is a place for prayers and meditation for both the priests and the laity.
Mr. Emmanuel Nwakamma, Chairman, Catholic Diocese of Awka, Lagos Support Group, said that project was to address the infrastructure needed of the over 500 priests in the diocese.