Facing the Future with Hope and Optimism

2024 Easter Message by Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, Archbishop of Owerri and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN)



  1. We are celebrating Easter this year in an atmosphere that is beclouded by uncertainty, tension, and pessimism. The general insecurity of life and property across the nation is heightened by the recent hike in the kidnapping of school children for ransom, especially in the Northern part of the country. The decline in the value of the national currency is only surpassed by the alarming rate at which inflation is sky-rocketing, making the price of basic commodities beyond the reach of the poor and vulnerable. Consequently, many families have been impoverished and are daily plagued by hardship, hunger and malnutrition.

  1. This state of affairs is driving many compatriots to feelings of despair, cynicism and apathy. Having had a myriad of shattered dreams and aborted hopes, many of our fellow citizens stare with despondency at a future that appears to promise them little or nothing. As a result of this state of affairs, many young Nigerians, who should constitute the labour force to build up our economy, flee the country as economic refugees in search of greener pastures in foreign countries.

  1. The prevailing disillusionment that reigns among our people mirrors the frustration felt by the apostles and disciples at the excruciating passion and humiliating death of Christ on a Cross. After the crucifixion of their Lord and Master, they returned home with shattered dreams and hopes – dispirited, dejected, downcast and miserable. Their high hopes of a Messiah to liberate them from the oppression and exploitation of Roman emperors faded and disappeared like a mirage.

  1. Against this gloomy and cheerless background, the joyful and heart-warming Easter message resounds: God has raised Jesus to life. He would not allow injustice, oppression and death to triumph for ever. He would not allow his people to die and perish in their helplessness.  He desires that Christ and indeed all should have life and have it to the full.

  1. Amidst our feeling of despair and disillusionment, Easter has a message of hope, namely: that at the end of every dark tunnel there is some light; that the darkest part of the night is the beginning of dawn. This message of hope underscores that even though the forces of evil might seem at times to have the upper hand over the good, on the long run goodness always triumphs over evil. Accordingly, far from yielding to pessimism and despair, believers in Christ face the future with hope and optimism; and persevere to the end in hard and difficult circumstances.

  1. Nevertheless, it is of vital importance to bear in mind that the bright future we hope for will only come about with the cooperation of one and all. In this regard it is necessary for us to acknowledge that our socio-economic problems as a nation, in the final analysis, are self-inflicted wounds which have their origins in our personal and collective transgressions reflected in greed, graft, embezzlement, dishonesty, electoral malpractice, ethnocentrism, bigotry, and fanaticism.

  1. Easter, which recalls Christ’s victory over sin and the opening of a new pathway of life for humanity, is a call on us, the leaders and the led, to renounce our personal and collective sins, to embrace uprightness of life and to rededicate ourselves to the duty of nation building. This demands rising up to our civic responsibilities of being law-abiding and contributing selflessly to the common good to the best of our ability. The celebration of Easter reminds us of the transcendent dimensions of life in a world that is dominated by materialism and poisoned by the spirit of consumerism. In this regard, St. Paul enjoins us “if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above…Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth…” (Col. 3, 1-2).

  1. The fallout of the 2023 general elections, which was marred by irregularities, is a strong feeling of political alienation and economic marginalisation among some sections of the country. Easter, in recalling how Christ, the Prince of Peace, reconciled us to God and to our fellow men, challenges us to be ambassadors of peace and agents of reconciliation in a nation divided by the politics of nepotism, and torn apart by inter-ethnic and inter-religious tensions and strife. As a means of fostering national unity and cohesion, we must choose the pathway to peace by shunning injustice, discrimination, bigotry and fanaticism, which cause discord, disaffection and disunity.

  1. We need to imbibe the enduring message of peace which Easter offers us, especially now that we are experiencing many violent crimes in the country. Rather than take to violence, we must learn to settle differences amicably through dialogue, rooted in the spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness. Far from embracing violence as a way of settling our differences, we should hearken to those beautiful words of Isaiah: “Beat your sword into ploughshares” (Is. 2, 4).

  1. As we celebrate Easter, we should realise that Christ’s victory over death, which is also a sign of our own victory over the forces of evil, entails joy and inner peace for believers in Christ. We cannot joyfully celebrate Easter with a heart laden with bitterness and hatred. Therefore, we need to proclaim forgiveness as a way to unity and peace in our families, communities, States and across the nation. With these thoughts, I wish you a happy and grace-filled Easter.

Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji

Archbishop of Owerri

President, CBCN.