17 Mar 2015

On Monsignor John Aniagwu’s Diabolical Funeral Homily


                                              By Jonathan Ekene Ifeanyi

Late Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas
In his piece, ‘Where Has the Catholic Funeral Mass Gone?’ Louie Verrecchio, a Catholic speaker and the author of ‘Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II’, writes:

“Make no mistake about it: The Church in our day is in the midst of a terrible, and in many ways unprecedented, crisis of faith. This objective reality, however, is largely lost on the overwhelming majority of Catholics, both clerical and otherwise. While some Catholics, with deliberate intent, actively promote the various agendas that underlie the situation, others simply choose to downplay the magnitude of the crisis out of sheer weakness, as acknowledging the problem suggests a certain responsibility for contributing to the solution. The majority, however, simply don’t know any better after having been lulled into accepting as “Catholic” the rather comfortable, undemanding, and protestantized spirituality that has been served up in so many parishes over the last several decades. It is with this latter group in mind that I would suggest that all one needs to do in order to remove all doubt as to the extent of the current crisis is to attend, with eyes opened wide, just about any Novus Ordo Mass of Christian Burial. While I have been to many such funeral Masses over the years, I can honestly say that I haven’t experienced even one, single, solitary liturgy of this sort that is truly reflective of Catholic doctrine regarding last things, much less the very purpose of said liturgy. Part of the problem stems from the fact that so many of our priests, and even bishops, seem incapable of resisting the urge to twist the meaning of the funeral Mass into a “celebration of the life” of the deceased that effectively serves as a quasi-canonization, particularly in the minds of those most deeply in mourning, who by tragic coincidence also just happen to be the very people upon whom the dearly departed should be able to rely for prayers of intercession going forward.”

Indeed, I attended such a funeral “mass” last week. It was the funeral of late Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas which took place at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Catholic Mission Street, Lagos, on Friday, March 6, 2015. After a lying-in-state ceremony at his residence and Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan, Lagos, family, friends, associates and other dignitaries moved to the Church to bid the Lagos socialite farewell. With the church filled to threshold amid tight security, the “Mass” was a time for sober reflections on the personality of late Okoya-Thomas and a tribute to “a life well spent.” The Church and its environs were agog, and church wardens had a hard time controlling the crowd. The well-attended “Mass” caused a section of the road on the island to be cordoned off as motorists had to seek alternative routes. 

Some of the distinguished personalities (mostly Muslims and 
Protestants)at Holy Cross Cathedral during the funeral "mass".
Dignitaries in attendance included Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan; Senate President, David Mark; national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Bola Ahmed Tinubu; governors of Lagos, Ogun and Rivers States, Babatunde Fashola, Ibikunle Amosun and Rotimi Amaechi; APC’s gubernatorial candidate in Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode; PDP’s gubernatorial candidate in Lagos State, Jimi Agbaje; former governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki; former governor of Lagos State, Mobolaji Johnson; Gen. TY Danjuma and his wife, Daisy; business magnates Aliko Dangote and Folorunsho Alakija, Senator Gbenga Ashafa; traditional rulers and diplomats, among others. 

On my part, I attended the funeral “mass” to pray for and bid farewell to the deceased whom I knew personally.

Monsignor John Aniagwu started his homily by reminding those present that in the Catholic Church, eulogies are not allowed during funeral homilies. But then he quickly begged for “permission” to go against this because of the man whom he described as “a good man before man and before God”! We pause here to note that even Jesus Christ, speaking in His capacity as man (and not as the Logos), replied to someone who committed a similar error in the Bible: “Why dost thou call me good? None is good but God alone.” (Luke 18: 18). Aniagwu, who is the Parish Priest of St Leo Catholic Church, Ikeja, and Vicar General, Archdiocese of Lagos, advised the congregation to wipe their tears and celebrate the departed soul because the deceased lived a good life before God and man.

"We should be thanking God because he is the source, giver and author of the deceased. We should be celebrating a fulfilled life that he lived. …Okoya-Thomas made his life worth celebrating, God gave him the existence he lived and he made judicious use of it.”

Aniagwu said coming so close to Okoya-Thomas and working closely with him had a great impact on him, adding that “it was the same way with everyone at the funeral. …He made a positive impact on the lives of all. It is a pity to lose him, but the Lord knows best,” he said.

A positive impact on the lives of all? That’s serious!

At these words I hissed softly and then looked at the priest angrily, because, as I said, I knew the deceased personally.

Monsignor Aniagwu also spoke at length about the deceased as a “philanthropist”, a word which is simply unchristian. “Philanthropy has many wonderful qualities—and never tires of proclaiming them, for one quality it sorely lacks is humility,” writes  William A. Schambra. “It regularly thumps itself on the back, for instance, for devoting some $300 billion a year to good causes…” And that is exactly what makes it unchristian! Compare, for instance, the above quote with the following scriptural passage:

“And Jesus sitting over against the treasury, beheld how the people cast money into the treasury, and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. And calling his disciples together, he saith to them: Amen I say to you, this poor widow hath cast in more than all they who have cast into the treasury. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want cast in all she had, even her whole living.” (Mark 12:41-44). What this poor widow did is a classic example of what Christian-giving is all about. It proceeds, first and foremost, out of our love for God and the promotion of the things of God. Philanthropy, on the other hand, always has a radically different motive. 

Philanthropy (from the Greek
 φιλανθρωπία) etymologically means “love of humanity” in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing and enhancing “what it is to be human” on both the benefactors’ (by identifying and exercising their values in giving and volunteering) and beneficiaries’ (by benefiting) parts. The most conventional modern definition is “private initiatives, for public good, focusing on quality of life.” Most prominent philanthropists in the world today simply do not know God and are not interested in knowing Him, at all! All their so-called “giving” are often done out of their “love of humanity,”—if at all that can be called love—and not out of their love of God.

However, that wasn’t all. I got alarmed when, at a point Monsignor Aniagwu decided to “canonized” the deceased from the pulpit. He declared to the entire congregation that the deceased was—in fact—already in heaven!

This reminds us of John Paul II's funeral. Cardinal Ratzinger said in his homily that he felt that J.P. II— arguably the worst heretic in the entire history of the Church—was looking down from a window in heaven as he had looked down from his window in the Apostolic Palace. Now, of course, John Paul II has been “canonized”, but no one—not Joseph Ratzinger—knew for sure the state of his soul at death at his funeral Mass. Perhaps, he had despaired toward the end and was in need of purification, perhaps—and may God avert–he wasn’t even found worthy to go to Purgatory but was sent into the everlasting punishment in hell fire, where he would burn for all eternity!

Throughout the homily, Monsignor Aniagwu never mentioned the need to pray for the deceased. Rather, he just kept on eulogizing the dead man, after which he then solemnly declared to the congregation that the deceased is in fact already in heaven! The widow of the deceased, representing the entire Nigerian Novus Ordo Catholics, also said the same thing in her tribute: “I am confident that you are in heaven with the angels.  I will always love you.  Rest in the bosom of the Lord till we meet to part no more,” she said.

Now who is left to pray for the deceased? No one!

Of course Aniagwu’s wasn’t a Catholic homily but a purely diabolical one. As Catholics it is so important for us to pray for our loved ones to help them out of Purgatory—if they are even considered worthy to be there—because they can no longer help themselves. It is one of the most important works we can accomplish with deep heartfelt faith.

But the likes of Monsignor Aniagwu do not believe in Purgatory, and that is understandable, at least as far as Vatican II church doctrines which they fanatically hold are concerned.

Aniagwu set the stage. Then in his address, the officiating minister, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins said Okoya-Thomas, in his lifetime, exhibited traits that were enviable, as he never discriminated against anyone, selflessly accommodating and working for the good of others. 

He said: “The traits Okoya-Thomas exhibited ensured amiable co-existence in Lagos state. But regrettably, these traits are being eroded in our society today. We are witnessing growing cases of religious intolerance and bigotry among Nigerians both in public and their private lives. We are witnessing the introduction of religion into the affairs of the Nigerian state, from the federal to the local councils. That kind of development—if it is development—is unhealthy.”

Now the only good news about the deceased was that he was born in a Muslim family, but at the age of sixty he decided—for a reason known personally to him—to renounce his Islamic faith and become a Catholic. Both Monsignor Aniagwu and the Archbishop never emphasized on this. They did not use the rare opportunity to remind all the evil men and women gathered on that day of the need to emulate this very act of courage on the part of the deceased (if at all it was done with a good intention!) because—as Vatican II churchmen—the word “conversion” simply does not exist in their dictionary. In fact, this very idea of conversion is what the Archbishop was already indirectly referring to as a “religious intolerance and bigotry among Nigerians both in public and their private lives.” Hence the Archbishop rejoiced to stress
 that the deceased did not alienate himself from his Muslim roots “even as he was a devout Catholic.” 

This requiem “mass” indeed reminds me of the case of Tony Palmer, a Protestant “bishop” who was given a “Catholic” Requiem Mass by Francis I. “Father David told us that because Tony [Palmer] was not a Roman Catholic he had to ask his bishop’s permission to celebrate the requiem and though Tony’s wife and children are Roman Catholics, permission still had to be given for the requiem. The bishop agreed but said that Tony could not be buried as a bishop as he was not a Roman Catholic bishop. However, Pope Francis said he should and could be buried as a bishop, and so that put an end to that little bit of ecclesiastical nonsense!” writes Michael Daly, CJ, a member of the “non-denominational Franciscan” group called the Companions of Jesus, based in the UK. Michael Daly attended the Requiem “Mass” celebrated at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in the city of Bath by Canon David Ryan. Tony Palmer was an evangelical, Pentecostal Episcopalian “bishop” who was a close friend and collaborator with Francis I. Palmer was killed in a head-on motorcycle accident on July 20, 2014.

In February 2014 the Catholic world was stunned to see a YouTube video, recorded by Tony Palmer on his iPhone, of Francis I in which Francis calls the Protestant Palmer “my brother, a bishop-brother,” and sends a special note of encouragement to a large interfaith Pentecostal gathering sponsored by Kenneth Copeland Ministries.  “Bishop” Tony Palmer says in his February video that he has worked closely with John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis I, all who have encouraged his work as a Protestant Pentecostal preacher. He was especially close with Cardinal Bergoglio, and says that he had even greater access to Bergoglio since his election to the Papacy than when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Palmer called his work a “convergence movement,” between Protestants and Catholics, but the convergence he envisions is an undefined future “unity” wherein neither Protestants nor Catholics convert to each other’s denomination—a common vision of all the Vatican II popes. According to the Boston Globe, then-Cardinal Bergoglio had been a “spiritual father” to the Protestant Palmer. “At one point, when Palmer was tired of living on the frontier and wanted to become Catholic, Bergoglio advised against conversion for the sake of the mission. “We need to have bridge-building,” Bergoglio told him.

Now, if about five decades after the evil Council,  we witness unprecedented madness and scandal as the Council’s ecumenism continually plays itself out: a non-Catholic “bishop” (who never received valid Orders) receiving encouragement by Papa Bergoglio to preach his Protestant-style of Christian unity, and after whose tragic death received “Requiem Mass”, with Francis I insisting (according to Michael Daly CJ) that Palmer be “buried as a bishop,” what other kind of lesser madness can we not expect from men like John Aniagwu and Adewale Martins? 

Surprisingly, the only thing Archbishop Martins didn’t do on that day was to advise the relatives of the deceased to have his body cremated, and I wondered why! Because I could remember vividly that the same Archbishop Martins, sometime in January, 2013, was asked by a journalist: “What is your take on the issue of legalising cremation in Lagos State, which has passed second reading at the Lagos State House or Assembly? What is the position of the church?” The Archbishop answered that cremation is perfectly okay! His exact words: “Even in the Catholic Church, there is a right for taking care of bodies that have undergone cremation. So, in principle, cremation is not an unacceptable practice.”

Eventually Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State succeeded in signing the Cremation Bill into law on Monday, June 10, 2013, paving way for residents of the state to begin burning of dead bodies rather than burying them!

When the marriage of Roman paganism with Christianity took place, one of the major concessions that paganism made to Christianity was the elimination of pagan cremation. Roman Catholic Christians followed the custom of the Old Covenant of burying their dead. Roman Emperor Constantine was buried in Constantinople. God told Adam and Eve: “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19). An entire chapter of the Holy Bible is devoted to the story of Father Abraham buying a field as a burial place for his beloved wife Sarah, and eventually as a final resting place for himself and his promised heir Isaac. (Genesis Chapter 23). Ancient Israel was a small country ...with a huge population... Families of 8 to 10 children were very common, yet everyone was guaranteed a grave as a final resting place (before the general Resurrection on the Last Day). Burial was a great testimony to the pagans because the Christians believed in the Resurrection of the Body. Jesus the Messiah promised his believers: “And this is the will of him who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40). In joyful expectation of a glorious Resurrection, Christians refused to follow the cremation customs of their pagan neighbours.

Christian burial prevailed in Great Britain until the beginning of the 20th century. The door was opened to Druid cremation by that deadly Druid named Charles Darwin. Darwin said that man was just an evolved beast, so why bother with burial? Just burn him like an animal when he dies! At that evil Council of unbelievers, called Vatican II, Darwin’s views prevailed! Since Vatican II, the counterfeit church does allow the cremation option “under certain circumstances and understandings”!

Again, I wondered why Archbishop Martins didn’t recommend cremation to members of the deceased’s family, and I am still wondering whether he would also consider it, when the time comes near, for himself!

Then we come to the main funeral “Mass.” In the New Mass the idea of Purgatory as well as Hell and the Devil are completely overlooked! (Do not be deceived, even the so-called new translation is so utterly worthless, because changing a few words here and there do nothing to re-form a poorly formed priest possibly preaching heresy from the pulpit).

In the Latin Mass, on the contrary, everything is in BLACK and the four Last things are mentioned. This is not a matter of being a “Pharisee” but rather about having a strong Catholic Identity and also our traditional Catholic beliefs. For brevity’s sake, following is just a sampling of those parts of the traditional rite that stand in sharp contrast to the “once saved, always saved” overtones woven throughout the text of the post-conciliar version:

“Absolve, O Lord, the souls of all the faithful departed from every bond of sin. And by the help of Thy grace, may they be enabled to escape the judgment of punishment.” (From the Gradual)

“Day of wrath, O day of mourning, Lo, the world in ashes burning – Seer and Sibyl gave the warning. O what fear man’s bosom rendeth, When from Heaven the Judge descendeth, On whose sentence all dependeth! … Guilty, now I pour my moaning, All my shame with anguish owning: Spare, O God, Thy suppliant groaning.” (From the Sequence; the thirteenth century hymn, Dies Irae)

“O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, deliver the souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of Hell and from the deep pit: deliver them from the mouth of the lion, that Hell may not swallow them up … Hear us, O Lord, we pray, and let the soul of Thy servant (N.) profit by this sacrifice, by the offering of which Thou didst grant that the sins of the whole world should be loosed.” (From the Offertory).

We thank God for the priests of the Society of St. Pius X, who are now in Nigeria to propagate the true Catholic Faith, and to champion the traditional Latin Mass. And I conclude with the following words of Louie Verrecchio:

“In light of all that is highlighted here, I have done my best to secure the assurances of my wife and close friends that, in the event they survive me, they will make every attempt to arrange a Traditional Requiem Mass on my behalf, and I would suggest that all would do well to do the same. At the very least, it may be a good idea to include in one’s final will and testament the following request: If during the course of my funeral Mass, the priest dares to give those who are mourning my passing even the slightest impression that I am enjoying the Beatific vision in Heaven at that very moment, please give him the following message from me: Get behind me, Satan!” 

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