OUTSPOKEN Nigerian clergyman Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah has been appointed as a member of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Human Integral Development by the head of the Vatican Pope Francis I.
Constantly championing the cause of Christians in Nigeria who are victims of murderous attacks from Muslim Fulani herdsmen, Dr Kukah is currently the bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese. His recent criticism of the government over its failure to protect Christians led to calls by some extremists for the clergyman to be banished from Sokoto State.
This week Bishop Kukah’s appointment was contained in a letter to dated December 11, 2020 and signed by His Eminence, Peter Cardinal Turkson, the Prefect of the Dicastery. With the appointment, Bishop Kukah will now join other members of the Dicastery drawn from different regions of the world to advise and promote the pope’s concerns on issues of justice and peace, human rights, torture, human trafficking, care of creation and other issues related to the promotion of human dignity and development.
This appointment which is renewable, is for an initial period of five years and the council will be formally inaugurated on a later date. The Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development was created on January 1, 2017, when four Dicasteries – the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, Cor Unum, Pastoral Care of Immigrants and Itinerant People and Health Care of Workers, were all merged by the pope.
This appointment adds to Bishop Kukah’s string of national and international engagements within the universal Church. He was first appointed a Consultor and later a member of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, Vatican City and has served under three popes.
He is currently, chairman of the Dialogue Committees of both the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria. Bishop Kukah was a member of the official delegation of the Holy See that met with the Emir of Qatar when that country opened diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 2002.
Besides, in 2016, he was nominated by the Vatican to represent Africa on the advisory board of the Vienna based, King Abdulazeez International Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue, known as Kaiicid. It was the fruit of the collaboration between the governments of Saudi Arabia, Austria and the Holy See for the promotion of worldwide dialogue between different religions.
Bishop Kukah comes to the Dicastery on the Promotion of Integral Development with a lot of experience in the areas of human rights, justice and reconciliation. In Nigeria. he has repeatedly called for the government to take security more seriously and to look after the victims of terrorism.