Monday, July 3, 2017

Ahiara Diocese Ignore Pope’s Injunctions Rejects Bishop Peter Ebele Okpaleke

Over 3,000 members of Ahiara Diocese of the Catholic Church, on Saturday, converged at the Mater Ecclesiae cathedral, Mbaise in Imo State to restate their total rejection of the embattled Bishop Peter Ebele Okpaleke appointed for the Diocese.

Okpaleke had been 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 appointment on the grounds that there were many irregularities in his appointment.

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 while others, dressed in different church uniforms, also participated in the rally.

Addressing the congregation, the President of the Diocesan Laity Council, 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.

“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 said.

The Provincial Ambassador, Laity Council of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, Lawrence Opara, also addressing the gathering, dismissed reports that the Mbaise priests would be sanctioned by the Pope if the agitation continued as he wondered why the case was different and difficult to resolve since it started in 2012.

“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,” he stated.

“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.

“We are fighting for peace and justice. It is very unfortunate that the Ahiara Diocesan bishopric crisis has unravelled many ills in the most revered Catholic Church. However, the truth must be told and we can’t take that high level of intimidation, injustice and corruption in the church.”

The scene was later visited by Governor of the state, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, to douse the tension which was caused by the rally.