Preloader image


The Church on trial

19 Dec 2016, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Doctrines


I recently walked into the Augustinian monastery library in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. I did not intend to read anything but admire the old library I frequently consulted during my initial formation days in the Seminary. As I walked around, my eyes stumbled on a book titled “The Missions on Trial.” It is an old book first published in Great Britain in October 1978 by St. Paul Publications and written by Walbert Buhlmann. I did not really open the book to read, so I do not know exactly what it is all about, but the title triggered something in me, and I went straight to my room and began to write.

According to that book, whatever kind of mission that was on trial did not really matter to me at that point, but my mind was on the Catholic Faith. Yes, the Catholic faith; it’s on “trial.” But this trial has never shaken my Catholic faith; neither has it ever led me to doubt my Catholic faith. It rather reminds me of what Jesus told the apostles about the coming persecution, that they would be persecuted but that it would be for them the time to trust the more, to rely on the eloquence that would come from Him. This Divine statement shows that in the trial that is on, judgment is passed already; it is between Catholicism and Protestantism. The Catholic Church is definitely not at war with any denomination, but it baffles me why the frequent attacks on Catholicism. Well, the saying may be right here that if you are of no importance, nobody cares about you.

Mind you, there is no special heaven for neither Catholics nor the Protestants, or to be more Christian, our separated brethren. We are all Christians and hope for the same heaven, but one cannot deny the truth about the negative attitudes and comments made against the Catholic Church by some of these separated brethren. Let me not be too general, so I limit myself to the Nigerian Church.

Catholicism in Nigeria is no doubt on trial; I said on trial because Protestantism is becoming fashionable to many Christians, including some Catholics. But I am proud to say that in the midst of this trial, judgment is passed already. The Catholic Church keeps moving and remains a force to be reckoned with. This is not to say that Catholics are better Christians, but I will not shy away from the fact that she remains the Church with the “keys.” The Church built on the rock and remained the Church the gates of hell cannot overcome.

I do not completely reject Protestantism, there are some things about this movement that should be appreciated, and after all, we are all brothers and sisters. But I stand with all my strength against whatever rises against Catholicism, and I encourage every Catholic not to be deceived by sugar-coated tongues. You have it all in your Church; you only need to discover it. Truly, the question is not whether we have it, but whether we know what we have. Therefore, be proud of your Catholic faith; it is the faith of our fathers, the apostolic faith.

  • Fortunatus Ihedioha Reply

    Fr., I agree with you 100% that the Church is on trial. Yes, these attacks from Protestants are real but I am also consoled, as you right pointed out: “Well, the saying may be right here that if you are of no importance nobody cares about you”.

    Speaking subjectively, attacks from Protestants are no skin off my nose because their attacks spring from ignorance and envy. The issue of major concern to me is the attacks from fellow Catholics who are supposed to be custodians of the Catholic faith. It is painful that most Catholics have really lost grip of the spiritual benefits that abound in the Church.

    On the 6th of November, 2016, I was privileged to speak to a group of Catholic youths from a community in Anambra State on two topics combined in one: WILL YOU EVER FIND REASONS TO LEAVE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH? WHO IS THE VIRGIN MARY TO YOU? I didn’t have time to exhaust the topic but the little time I spent with them was an eye-opener. To say the least, most Catholics are the ones that provide fertile ground for Protestants’ attacks against the Church. It is funny and perturbing too that most of us know no jack about our Catholic faith.

    Fr., I suggest that if it is possible, let the various societies in our parish be mandated to take the teaching of catholic doctrine as part of their societal activities in this year.

    Thank you Fr.