Publicado: Mier, Febrero 21, 2018
Salud | Por Gertrudes Rodriquez

Ahiara diocese: Catholic Bishop, Okpalaeke resigns

Ahiara diocese: Catholic Bishop, Okpalaeke resigns

Pope Francis has bowed to the rebels of Ahiara Diocese in Imo state and abandoned Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke, after priests and laymen rejected his appointment for six years.

He included a call to repentance, saying he wanted "to invite those who have remained in permanent opposition to have an authentic 'sensus Ecclesiae' (i.e. staying with the Church in love), to renew the spiritual bond and to refrain from being guided by ideologies, motivations and ideas that neither belong to Christ nor to the Church".

The Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, has immediately appointed Most Revd Lucius Ugorji, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia, as the Apostolic Administrator of Ahiara Diocese. Ahiara diocese may have succeeded in intimidating the Vatican but they have set a precedence that is totally alien to the Catholic faith.

Also thanking the Vatican, the Chairman of the Ahiara Diocesan Catholic Priests Association, Reverend Father Austin Ekechukwu, said the people are excited about the news.

Ahiara diocese had been engulfed in crisis following their refusal to accept Peter Okpaleke, appointed the local bishop in 2012 by the then pontiff, Benedict XVI.

After Bishop Okpaleke's appointment, his Mbaise opponents blocked access to Ahiara's cathedral for his episcopal ordination, forcing the prelate to instead be consecrated and installed outside his new diocese, at Seat of Wisdom Seminary in the Archdiocese of Owerri, May 21, 2013.

Since the standoff began, there have been no priestly ordinations, even though an estimated 50 seminarians finished their studies in recent years.

"Following the Instructions of His Holiness Pope Francis, during the months of June and July 2017, He received 200 letters from individual priests of the Diocese of Ahiara, in which they manifested to Him obedience and fidelity".

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"Taking into account their repentance, the Holy Father decided not to proceed with the canonical sanctions and instructed the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples to respond to each of them". Anthony Obinna, for the efforts made to solve the lamentable situation.

This was the Pope's second attempt to order the priests to accept the bishop.

"For the time being, the Holy Father does not intend to appoint a new Bishop in Ahiara, but He reserves to Himself the right to continue to have a special and particular concern for this Diocese, assigning a new Apostolic Administrator, Sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis, in the person of His Excellency, the Most Rev. Lucius lwejuru Ugorji, Bishop of Umuahia, to whom He grants all the faculties reserved to an Ordinary. He works well or he doesn't, and that's the story of the Church".

At the time, Onaiyekan warned: "It won't stop here".

Meanwhile, the bishops are expected to elect new leadership Tuesday after the expiration of Kaigama-led executives.

He said the attitude of the opposing priests and faithful refused to "give the Holy Spirit a chance", but that in conscience he felt remaining bishop of the diocese was "no longer beneficial to the Church".

"I consider my resignation from the position of Bishop of Ahiara as the only proper option now to facilitate re-evangelization of the faithful and, most importantly and urgently, the priests of Ahiara Diocese, especially now that the Holy Father and his collaborators in the Roman Curia can already decipher priests who affirmed their loyalty to the Holy Father and those who chose to bow out of the Catholic Church in disobedience", the bishop said.

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