NIGERIA : NO 'CONGO CHAOS'
Independence viewed with great hope
DRUMS will throb, guns will be fired, speeches will be made next Saturday (October 1) when Nigeria, one of Africa's largest nations, is granted Independence within the Commonwealth. And two million Catholics will pray for their country.
Pope John — at the request of a Nigerian Bishop — has written a special prayer for Independence Day, and, at the invitation of the Federal Government, the Pope is sending Archbishop Maury, Apostolic Delegate to French speaking West Africa, to be his special representative.
The 20-strong Nigerian Hierarchy will shortly issue a joint pastoral letter on the problems which will face Independent Nigeria and her 35 million people. Cardinal Rugambwa of Rutabo, Tanganyika, has sent a message of good wishes through the monthly "Catholic Life" magazine.
Every parish in Nigeria, which saw its first Catholic missionary of modern times nearly 100 years ago, will be dedicated to the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
On Sunday, October 2, special Masses will be said for the future of the country. Civic services, processions and torchlight processions have been arranged. Throughout Independence year the Divine Praises have been said after Mass.
In Lagos on Saturday, Fr. J. A. Adeneye, a headmaster, will give a broadcast for the Church over the national network.
Princess Alexandra, who will represent the Queen and hand over the Independence Charter, is to visit only two schools during her three-week tour. One is St. Teresa's College, Ibadan, run by Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles. The 280 girls will sing a welcoming song in Yoruba, the main regional language.
Ireland's Premier, Mr. Lemass, will be among the official visitors for Independence Day. Among Britain's delegation will be Lord Perth, Minister of State for the Colonies.
In London, a Nigerian priest will say Mass in Westminster Cathedral; in Manchester, the Society of African Missions will have a special Mass said and will hold a social for Nigerians in the city.
Archbishop Porter, recently retired bishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, now living at the S.M.A. seminary at Dutton Manor, near Preston, will go to Nigeria as a government guest.
No violence spurred the granting of independence in Nigeria, and violence is not expected to follow it, is the considered opinion of Church leaders. They have no fears that their country will follow the experience of the Congo.
The past decade has seen a steady period of increasing selfrule: it has also been a time of rapid Catholic growth, the Catholic population doubling in that Continued on Page 7, Col. 2
Continued from page I time, and Catholic education (as well as public) has taken giant strides. As late as 1942, 99 per cent of Nigeria's schools were run by Catholic and Protestant missionaries.
Church authorities who earlier welcomed the coming of selfgovernment, now view the achievement of complete freedom with hope. In Nigeria the Church is organised into three 'archdioceses, nine dioceses and six apostolie prefectures. One dioceses is headed by a Nigerian Bishop. three other Nigerian bishops serve as auxiliaries in other Sees. About 50 of the more than 700 priests are Nigerians. Three-quarters of the missionary priests come from Ireland. There are 113 Brothers and 430 Sisters in the country.
The Church operates more than 3.800 schools with more than 589,000 children enrolled, and runs more than 100 hospitals and dispensaries.
The main missionary Orders and Congregations working in Nigeria are the Society of the African Missions. the Holy Ghost Fathers.
the Society of St. Patrick. the Augustinians. the Dominicans, the Mill Hill Fathers and the White Fathers.
The nation's 15 million Moslems most of whom live in the northern part of the country are the largest religious group. Protestants number about five million. More than 10 million are pagans.
Partly because there are fewer than 20,000 nun-Nigerians in the country, and because few white people hold land, there is no colour bar or racial tension. Relations with Britain are good and the three Regions (Northern, Eastern and Western) each has a large measure of autonomy within the whole, are remaining within the British Commonwealth.