Muslim-Muslim: Forgive Me, APC Campaign DG, Lalong, Begs Bishops Over Comments On Pope

Muslim-Muslim: Forgive Me, APC Campaign DG, Lalong, Begs Bishops Over Comments On Pope

The All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Director-General and  Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, on Friday issued a letter of apology over his controversial comment on the Pope.

Lalong, a Christian, drew the anger of fellow Christians when he dragged the name of the Pope while defending his political party’s Muslim-Muslim ticket in the forthcoming 2023 Presidential Election.

Lalong tendered the “unreserved apology” to the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), following what has been described in some quarters as his ‘blasphemous’ comments about the Catholic Pontiff, Holy Father, Pope Francis.

It would be recalled that while defending his decision to accept the position of DG of the APC Campaign Council after the political party had announced a Muslim-Muslim ticket said the Pope couldn’t have condemned his appointment.

This comment was condemned by many Christians, especially Catholics who point to the facts that Lalong is a Christian and Knight of the Catholic Church.

Christians who criticised his decision to drag the  Pope into his defence of a Muslim-Muslim ticket in a country  like Nigeria also frowned at his choice of words even as a Papal Knight of St. Gregory. They therefore demanded his immediate suspension from the Church.

While admitting that it was an error on his part to have linked the Catholic Pontiff with Nigeria’s politics, Lalong begged for forgiveness and understanding from the Catholic Church through the Bishops’ conference.

In a letter to the CBCN President, entitled, ‘Letter of Apology,’ which was dated August 12, 2022, Governor Lalong begged for forgiveness.

The letter 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 candidate of our party, the APC, Ahmed Tinubu, and his running mate, 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 thereabout years, I 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.”