Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State and the Director-General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Campaign for the 2023 general elections, has apologized over his ‘blasphemous’ remarks about the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
He tendered an unreserved apology to the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).
He begged for forgiveness and understanding from the Catholic Church through the Bishops’ conference, admitting that it was an error on his part to have linked the Catholic Pontiff with Nigeria’s politics.
Earlier, some members of the Catholic Church had frowned at his choice of words, even as a Papal Knight of St. Gregory and demanded his immediate suspension from the Church.
In a letter to the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) President titled, “Letter of Apology”, dated 12th August, 2022, Governor Lalong assured of his continuous commitment to the Catholic faith and promised to continue upholding the banner of the Christian faith in public life.
According to Governor Lalong, “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.”
He further stated that the appointment, understandably was received with mixed reactions across the Christian community, who genuinely feel aggrieved by the decision of the party to settle for a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
He added that while many people commended him for the appointment and saw it as a way of remaining within the system to fight for their own interests, others cast aspersions on it on the grounds that their faith had been insulted and denigrated.
Governor Lalong observed that in all of this, many of his opponents turned the issue into a political weapon, with some spreading rumours and questioning the integrity of his credentials as a Catholic and a Papal Knight.
“In trying to make my case”, he explained that he has granted interviews to justify why he believed that the appointment did not in any way undermine his commitment to the Catholic Church, saying that during the week, in the course of defending himself, he had cause to make reference to his credentials as a Catholic and a Papal Knight.
According to him, he now realised that it was an error on his part and has caused some level of concern and even embarrassment to many, especially the members of the family of Papal Knights to which he belongs, stressing that he now understood that he might have overreached himself in the course of trying to defend his personal decision in accepting the appointment and thus, the reference to the holy father was not intended as an act of disrespect to his exalted and revered office.
According to Governor Lalong, “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.”
Governor Lalong added that his commitment to the Catholic faith to which he belongs remained unreserved and undiluted, saying that he would continue to uphold the banner of his faith in public life as he has done over the years, pointing out that in the last five or so years.