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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Ahiala Bishop Crisis: 3,000 Imo Diocese Members Protest Against Pope’s Choice

Yesterday, over 3, 000 faithful of Ahiara Diocese of the Catholic Churchat converged on the Mater Ecclesiae cathedral, Mbaise in Imo State for a rally to restate their total rejection of the embattled Bishop Peter Ebele Okpaleke.

Okpaleke was anointed and consecrated bishop of the diocese by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 but both the Laity Council and the priests in the diocese rejected his appointed on the grounds that he is not an indigene of the area, among other reasons.

The diocesan youths, who put on black attire, chanted solidarity songs to reaffirm their support for the position taken by the Ahiara Diocese clerics and the laity council’s to rejection of  Okpaleke.

Other Catholic men and women who dressed in different church uniforms, also participated in the rally, which started with a rosary procession round the cathedral.

Addressing the congregation inside the cathedral, the President of the Diocesan Laity Council, Mr. Gerald Anyanwu maintained that the people of Mbaise were not against the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis I, but that they were against the irregularities and injustices allegedly perfected against the people of the diocese in the selection of the bishop.

Anyanwu insisted that Okpaleke was forced on them, and that he was not a priest “incardinated in the Ahiara Presbyterian.”

He said, “There was no time we insisted that the bishop of the diocese must be an Mbaise son, but the prelate must be a priest incardinated in the diocese. We shall accept any bishop whether an Hausa man or a Yoruba man as far as he is incardinated in Ahiara Diocese.”

He frowned against the activities of the Nigeria representatives of the church in Rome and urged them (cardinals) in the Vatican city to urgently look into the case of the Ahiara Diocese.

Also addressing the gathering the Provincial Ambassador, Laity Council of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, Mr. Lawrence Opara, dismissed as propaganda, reports that the Mbaise priests would be sanctioned by the Pope if the agitation continued.

Opara (82), who is also the Secretary, Ahiara Diocese Laity Council wondered why the case was different and difficult to resolve since it started in 2012.

He said;

“This is time of propaganda but the truth must be told. They gave us a bishop by hook and crook means. We cannot accept him.“It is biblical that if a priest is given to a people of God and he is rejected, he should go and be assigned to another people, who will accept him.”

Opara described the rumor that the Mbaise priests would be sanctioned as false, maintaining that no priest had been derobed without his bishop’s consent and approval.

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