It was cheerful news for all members of the noble Order of Knights of St John International (KSJI) and their Ladies Auxillaries (LAUX) as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) lifted the 8-month suspension slammed on the Order over an alleged leadership crisis which nearly tore it apart.
It would be recalled that in an unprecedented action, the CBCN, while wading into the crisis, said it did not recognise the new leadership of the Order because aside from the fact that there was no genuine reconciliation in spite of the many interventions by His Lordship, Bishop Michael Akpochi, over the alleged crisis, members of the KSJI did not adhere to the directives given to them by the CBCN during its conference in Enugu.
The letter of suspension dated February 16, 2022, was signed by the then president of the CBCN, the Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze, Catholic Archbishop of Benin Archdiocese, and the Most Rev. Camillus Umoh, secretary and Catholic Bishop of Ikot Ekpene.
While calling for reconciliation, the CBCN maintained that “all aggrieved members should be called to the reconciliation table. The CBCN should be duly informed that a true and genuine reconciliation has been achieved. It is only on these grounds that the CBCN can begin to take steps towards recognising the elections conducted”.
It is therefore heartwarming that the gladiators in the Order have hearkened to the wise counsel of our dear revered bishops and toed the path of peace.
The first vice president of the Supreme Subordinate Commandery, KSJI, Nigeria, Brigadier General Evarist Uba, confirmed to Trinitas that not only has peace returned to the Order but that the commendable intervention of the CBCN has afforded the entire members a big lesson and time for sober reflections.
It should be clear to all that church organisations like the KSJI and others are not social or political organisations where offices are grabbed by all means.
The offices are not for personal aggradisement, neither are they for political grandstanding. And before it is forgotten, Catholic knighthood is not a social club rather it is for defence and propagation of the faith.
It is unfortunate that the 8-month ban has one way or the other affected other genuine activities of the Order nationwide, but it is not too late to make amends and forge ahead. Those who bear the progress of the Order at heart should encourage their members to set new agendas to move the Order forward.
The KSJI parades an array of committed and generous lay faithful, philanthropists and progressives. Many of them have used their resources to advance the cause of evangelisation. Just like other orders of knighthood, members of the KSJI and their Ladies Auxillaries are known to have engaged in huge charity contributions to the less privileged and for the betterment of society in general.
With the position of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, we believe the members of the Knights of St John International and their Ladies Auxillaries will come out stronger and demonstrate the true meaning and essence of their brotherhood. They should see this development as a new dawn. We commend the CBCN for its unbiased decision and consideration in lifting of the ban.
This really calls for a thanksgiving to God.