President Goodluck Jonathan has praised the church in Nigeria for its efforts in promoting inter-religious dialogue.
Speaking at a service to mark the 30th Episcopal ordination and celebration of the elevation of John Onaiyekan to Cardinal in Abuja, the President also advised church leaders to help in moulding good characters that will help in building a better society.
He used the occasion which took place at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-cathedral Abuja to criticize those who kill and main in the name of religion, saying that such people cannot be worshipping God.
Fundamentalist Islamic sect, Boko Haram, has been claiming responsibility for many of the bombings in the country, especially in the North.
The violence unleashed by the sect, which among other things, is demanding the Islamisation of the country, had claimed hundreds of lives.
But Jonathan on Sunday insisted that the two major religions in the country preach love and tolerance, saying anybody or group who acted contrary to the injunctions could not be said to be worshipping God.
He said, “We all know that no religion preaches or encourages violence. The two major religions in our land preach brotherhood, love and peaceful co-existence which are their foundations.
“Those who do otherwise do not worship God. Because it cannot be the same person who worships God that will encourage people to kill people who are also created by God.
“We believe that God created all of us and anybody who raises weapon to kill the very one created by God cannot be said to be worshipping God.”
He expressed the belief that if the church carried out its responsibility of building Nigerians of good character, the nation would be a better place for all.
Jonathan, who congratulated Onaiyekan on his elevation, said it was a significant achievement and honour for the clergyman and the nation. Noting that he had been working and interacting with the clergyman since he was Vice-President, Jonathan said Onaiyekan came across as a simple, humble and unassuming man of God.
He expressed the hope that very soon, a Nigerian would emerge a Pope.
“Very soon, not too long, we shall also celebrate a papal father from Nigeria,” he declared.
President of the Senate, David Mark, at a reception after the service, expressed the readiness of the National Assembly to make a law that would curtail the activities of religious extremists.
He said, “We (members of the National Assembly) are ready to support religious activities that will foster unity in the country and we are ready to make laws that will fight religious extremism in the country.