Nigerian catholic community defies Pope Francis, insists on removal of Bishop

Catholic Church [Photo: www.op.org]
Catholic Church [Photo: www.op.org]

The order of Pope Francis after a June 8 meeting at the Vatican with a delegation from the Ahiara Diocese has been defied again as 3,000 faithful of the Diocese of the Catholic Church protest the appointment of Bishop Peter Okpaleke.

The protesters were reportedly backed by the laity, priests and community leaders.

Mr. Okpaleke was appointed as Bishop and consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, but both the Laity Council and the priests in the diocese rejected his appointment on the grounds that he is not an indigene of the area, Mbaise.

In continuation of the defiance, worshippers again converged on Saturday on the Mater Ecclesiae Cathedral, Mbaise in Imo State for a rally to restate their total rejection of the embattled Bishop, an Anambra indigene, who the Pope said could not be rejected.

At the Vatican meeting, the Pope had called for a truce and directed all the priests and major actors in the crisis to tender letters of obedience to the Church which he said does not owned by the community.

Pope Francis laid down an ultimatum to the defiant Nigerian priests in Ahiara Diocese in Imo state: lose your job if you don’t obey me and your bishop, the Associated Press reported.

Pope Francis said he was acting “for the good of the people of God” by threatening to suspend the priests from the ministry if they didn’t pledge in a letter, by July 9, “total obedience” to Francis and accept Bishop Peter Okpaleke’s appointment.

Those priests opposing Mr. Okpaleke’s taking up of his office “want to destroy the church, which is not permitted,” the pope said in his address to the delegation.

He told the visiting delegation he was “very sad” about the priests’ refusal to obey and ruled out tribal loyalties as explaining the refusal.

However, the pope’s move to end disobedience to the Vatican appears to have been rebuffed again.

According to The Punch newspapers on Sunday, 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 Mr. 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, 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.

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

“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 a Hausa man or a Yoruba man as far as he is incardinated in Ahiara Diocese.”


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  • Amen

    If only our government can be smart for once and give these people their Biafra, 70% of Nigeria structural problems will be solved. The same people that speak the same Igbo but cannot allow his follow ibo man from Anambra to be their Catholic Head even after the intervention of the Holy Pontiff? South Sudan will be a walk in the park.

    • Abdulmojeed Nojeemdeen

      Let’s wait.

    • selemo

      Abi o o o bro..

  • Green

    Igbos are seriously interesting people. Rejecting a priest because he’s not from your community. This is perpetual marginalization mentality in play. So I don’t wonder if Biafra is their solution, it’s not. Their collective greed is.

    • amazing2012

      You have said all!

      • 0tile

        He has not ‘said all!’ until he says something about the beheading of people in Arewa Nijeriya.

  • amazing2012

    You can see only two comments. Igbos are cursed !
    We are praying for their salvation. Why do you accpet jesus when everybody know he is not from your area?

    • 0tile

      Have you commented on the copious beheading going on in Northern Nigeria, your slave master’s place of birth?

  • Aondofa Samuel

    Why tag it Nigerian community when even in the diocese, not all accept with them?

  • Abdussalami Yaro

    Indigene! Indigene!! Indigene!!!. This notorious word. How do you find your way into the house of the holy Spirit? That is Naija for you.

    • 0tile

      Arna Jack Gowon brought the ugly idea of indigene vs non-indigene to dispossess Igbo people in Nigeria, remember.

  • International games

    This Pope should be opposed, but not on this issue. How can you reject a Priest because he is not from a particular area? However, this is the same Pope that cannot open his mouth to condemn Lesbianism and Homosexuality in his back yard. Rather he said “Who am I to judge?” Well the Chickens have come home to roost. Now he wants to Judge. Oyibo think they have sense.

  • Nta Ekeng

    Tell this man frm Rome that Africa is different frm Europe and he knows it. Pope or no Pope, listen to the ppl. It’s their destiny dt is at stake. In Lagos, there were qualified candidates to the position of the Bishop of the Archdiocese of Lagos. But for the fact that they were not Yorubas, they were not accepted by the Yorubas and the Vatican succumbed, and accepted a candidate, Cardinal Olubumi Okojie presented by the Yorubas. Why must that of Ahiara Diocese be treated differently? Europe installed a seed of discord in Africa. Africans are gradually extricating themselves frm the European snare. Catholic Church shouldn’t and must not take u back to our sad past. Am a Catholic and I know what goes on in the Catholic Church.

    • BabaLegba

      Receive this sense. Archbishop Okojie is an Itsekiri man. The Itsekiri share common cultural charasteristics with the Yoruba, and are considered our cousins.

      • BabaLegba

        Correction, he is an Esan man from Edo State.

        • 0tile

          Wrong. He is a good Urhobo.

      • Shehu Monguno

        BabaLegba, Anthony Cardinal Okogie is not an Itsekiri man, but an Esan man from Uromi, in Esan North West Local Government of Edo.

        I was a youth copper serving at Our Lady of Lourdes Secondary School in Uromi when they installed the first Catholic Bishop of Uromi an Ibo man whose name I cannot remember.

        Not only was Anthony Cardinal Ebosele Okogie present (Ebosele is his Esan name), he actually opened the Catholic Cathedral in Uromi a structure named after him.

        Cardinal Ebosele Okogie is not just an Esan man from Uromi, he is a member of the ruling house/royal family in Uromi.

        • babadee

          The first bishop of uromi diocese is an ibo man Augustine Akubueze. He is presently the archbishop of Benin.

          • Otile

            This kind of arguments leads nowhere, perhaps that time Uromi had no Catholic priest ordained for them. Remember only white men were bishops in most dioceses including Pitakwa and Calabar.

      • Mufu Ola

        Olubunmi Okogie is from Edo though mother is Yoruba.

    • Mufu Ola

      Olubunmi Okogie is Edo though mother is Yoruba.

      • 0tile

        Wrong, he is a good Urhobo clergyman with a Yoruba mother though he speaks good yoruba.

        • Mufu Ola

          I repeat.Olubunmi Okogie is from Edo State. Take this information to your bank as a collateral. You won’t fail.

  • realpresence

    To be Catholic is to be part of Christs community/family. If you do not obey the order of the Pope who sits in the Chair of Peter, you disobey Christ Himself!!!!! The first 3 rules of Catholicism are Obedience, Obedience and OBEDIENCE! if you are disobedient to Rome, you are following Satan’s example in saying “I WILL NOT SERVE!!”. Africa is NO different than any other country when it comes to Catholicism because the Church and Her doctrines, like God, never change. Shame on those “Priests” who disobey the Holy Father and give scandal to the people the are meant the shepherd!!

    • Sword of Damocles

      “If you do not obey the order of the Pope who sits in the Chair of Peter, you disobey Christ Himself!!”
      BLASTPHEMY. If one disobeys the Pope they disobey a MAN. There is nowhere in the gospel where it is written that the Prince of the Vatican is our creator’s spokesperson on earth. In fact, if you read carefully one might come to the OPPOSITE conclusion. However, if these clowns do not like the bishop chosen because he lacks “federal character”(what a joke), then they are duty bound to SEPARATE from the Catholic Church and form their own indigenous church where they can appoint bishops from their village. As far as I am concerned, our Creator’s Law are the 10 Commandments of which the Catholic Church disobeys the Fourth. Obey the 10, and you are safe/ SAVED. simple.

      • brbg

        How about our Lord’s words to Peter: “He who hears you, hears Me”? Also, “whatever you bind on earth is bound in Heaven”. Also, Whoever rejects you, rejects Me”.

        • pete salveinini

          I remember an incident in our own country MANY years ago when Rome tried to impose a latinizing bishop on a Ukrainian Catholic eparchy, HE WAS RESISTED BY THE LAITY IN THE CATHEDRAL AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SERVICE BY THE STANDING ROOM ONLY CONGREGATION. They opposed the candidate because he wanted to water down their Byzantine traditions, always wearing the Roman cassock and many other things. They responded with a rolling chant “unworthy” repeated unceasingly and growing in power. the Apostolic Delegate and the candidate slipped out of the Sanctuary and the back door. Rome then rethought the issue on the ancient principle that if the laity positively rejects a candidate and for good reasons OFFER ANOTHER CANDIDATE THEY WILL ACCEPT.
          I won’t second guess the Holy Father, nor the exemplary Cardinal of Abuja, whom I actually met when he was an auxiliary bishop visiting a pro-life conference here. But perhaps there is a back story that is complicated.
          AND in the early centuries down to some places into the 19th century the election of the local bishop was done within the Provence of the Archbishop with an active sounding of the presbyterate, and approval by the laity.
          AND Pope Francis DOES want to decentralize the Church.
          Perhaps they’ve had bishops that could not easily understand them in the past. So elevating a priest from within their diocese might be a wise option.

          • repletus

            Your Ukrainian Church has problems. Looks pious on the outside but in reality puts their faith in human endeavours before God.

        • Sword of Damocles

          Kindly explain to me how what you just quoted mandates the Pope to be our Creator’s spokesperson on earth? Peter was a disciple of our Lord. Are you equating the Pope to a disciple? Does the gospel EVER mention the Prince of Vatican? Some of you people that comment are just weird in you reasoning, and it is frightening

          • bellfri

            You are way off on any understanding of what you read in the Bible. Beware of the wiles of Satan. Pete was an Apostle and made Pope by Christ Himself. Who are you to deny that? Peace and understanding be with you.

      • realpresence

        And that attitude is why you are in open rebellion to you Saviour Jesus Christ!!!!!!!!!!

    • PGMGN

      And yet a good father does not strain his sons to the point of rebellion. Gentle leadership and consideration goes a long way. And not every order of the Pope is a mandate from Christ himself. But is there scandal? Yes. From every direction, including the top down.

      • raphaelheals

        Good point. My thought was, how hard can it be to give the people a bishop from amongst their people? Nigerians have many vocations within their own communities, how wonderful it would be that they would go back there to serve their people as a bishop. . I think it was a faux pas when this bishop was first appointed and to put it in Francis words perhaps he should ” listen” and “accompany” these people and admit that their needs have not been not been heard or respected.
        This seems to be a problem that could be so easily fixed but the universality of the church must also be respected. Their is some hypocrisy here though. Francis is all for decentralizing the church and giving power to local dioceses to make decisions when it comes to the issues of annulments and the whole adulterous relationships fiasco but here is a country booming with vocations and they are being chastised and treated like bad children. The need for obedience I understand but Francis has escalated this crisis by a hard hand when it was not necessary.

        • PGMGN

          It is my view that the Nigerians are being intentionally denigrated as happened to a particular group of South Americans in a small, backwood region a few years back. I forget where now. But the mandated Bishop appointed by Pope Francis had tight connections with a convicted sex offender bishop. The people protested vigorously. But Francis, in an interview even, ascribed their non-compliance with “superstition” and “ignorance”.

          If anything, those simple people were expected to be superstitious and ignorant and willingly accept seriously compromised leadership. It was, to my mind, shameful. A flagrant display of sophisticated dismissal gone awry when the I’m-so-Humble modus operandi shapeshifted into dogmatic pronouncements and shinnying around supposed mandates about zero tolerance.

          The resultant muscle flexing was a universal embarrassment. Although not picked up so much by new’s sources because, after all, it was only a little matter in a little town with little, simple minded people being a little overwrought.

          The decentralization tactic seems to only apply in a diocese where there is an excess of $$$ to be culled from the “faithful”. The same faithful who do not want to practice the Faith but fancy keeping themselves connected to the Church for whatever reason – appearances, politics, powerful allies?

          Rank hypocrisy stinks. No matter where it festers. That the faithful in Africa should be so treated so ham-handedly — even if it is only a misunderstanding — is a shameful misuse. Suffer the little children. Not scream at the little children and denigrate their legitimate wariness as inconsequential.

          • Jramza

            Pgmgn- as far as I know, the bishop in the South American diocese was accused, but never found guilty of anything. I believe Rome investigated, but did not uncover anything incriminating (for what that’s worth). (The skeptical will always be skeptical, and, admittedly, the older I get, The more I find a healthy dose of skepticism is not a bad thing).

            You seem to have a more intimate handle on the situation here than most people blogging – do you have an opinion on how the papacy might proceed better in Nigeria? Just curious.

          • PGMGN

            It’s the “for what its worth” that concerns me. The investigations, from what I heard, demonstrated that the newly minted bishop knew what was going on at some level. At least according to the testimony of victims. But was that corroborated? I don’t know. But that said, if the policy is zero tolerance then it should be zero tolerance. Not tolerance for some, exceptions for those with Cardinal connections, and the hammer for those on the bottom who are often the ones who see most clearly what is actually occurring.

            My view with regard to other nations that the West may perceive as not developed is to not patronize, pander, or underestimate. Not on any level. Intelligent and deeply faithful Catholics are found in every country in every level of society etc.

            If the Vatican seeks to preach the need to accompany, listen, journey together and not proselytize, they should try leading by example within the Church itself. One cannot feign kindness to those of other faiths while treating those within its own house with an iron fist. Especially when cultural issues or other serious conflicts arise.

            How can the Vatican justify concessions made with the Communist Church in China? Seriously. While I understand the need for diplomacy, those in Church leadership must understand that the very public airing of decidedly different treatment lends itself to trouble in the house. It’s the same when raising kids.

            Selective favoritism does not make for loving children. Especially when broadcast for all the world to see.

          • Jramza

            Very reasonable. I’d agree.
            Gonna follow you if it’s ok?

      • realpresence

        You still owe obedience to the Pope or you are in rebellion to Christs representative on earth! this is not rocket science! you can disagree with the Pope on many subjects but you can NOT be disobedient to him!

    • William Norris

      Really? Why would an African be so obsessed with obedience to Rome and not Ile-Ife or Arochukwu? Seriously what’s wrong with you people?

      The Popes who sat in the same Chair of Peter also ordered murders, torture and other evils. Give me a break?

      • realpresence

        A break you will not get if you continue to think like that! A “Catholic” African SHOULD be obedient to the Pope in Rome! I would love to see your sources as to the accusation of “murders, tortures and other evils” perpetrated by the Catholic Church!

        • William Norris

          Ever heard of The Inquisition?

          The modern day sex abuse scandals in the Church?

          LOL !!!

          • realpresence

            I’m at a loss as to what your laughing at! i asked for your sources as to the accusation of “murders, tortures and other evils” perpetrated by the Catholic Church and you say the inquisition! well which one? there were several! the wicked actions of certain Priests and religious does not mean they were approved by the Church! the same applies in these times as regards the sex abuse scandals. If you have proof the Catholic Church sanctioned these wicked acts i would like to see it!

          • William Norris

            It has been proven in court that the Catholic Church sanctioned the sexual abuse of young boys in the USA, the Church paid heavy fines in several states.

            A Cardinal of the Church was just charged with complicity in a sex crime in Australia in the last month.

            Just Google.

            Thanks!

          • realpresence

            I don’t need to google this! There is no such proof! individual wicked men who were Priests sexually abused kids! that is true, now kindly produce source material where it states the Catholic Church sanctioned these crimes! You claimed to have the proof, provide it! A Cardinal has been called to Australia to face charges. He may be innocent or guilty but one thing is certain, the Catholic Church did not order, sanction or have any complicity in his decision (if guilty) to commit these crimes! So once again i’ll ask you to name your reliable sources who can add validity to your accusations. Otherwise your claims are lies and your guilty of Calumny.

  • Fran123

    Disgusting Pope!

  • Babagordy

    Igbos and their discrimination woe be tides other ethnic group from south east who are claiming Biafra because they will have the opportunity to learn practical lessons in marginalization. Igbo is the only ethnic group who calls some people slaves in their midst in this age and day. Can marginalization be worst?

    • 0tile

      A yoruba slave is always fat and happy in his slavery, but a marginalized Igbo is never happy with the injustice, he is always trying to free himself unlike the yoruba. If you don’t want to be called a salve in Nigeria get up and get your Oduduwa Republic, cowardice is not the answer.

  • Jramza

    To all the people arguing about the tribal origins of this bishop, and why it matters, you DO realize the word “catholic” means universal? As in – no dividing tribes, countries or ethnicities.

  • Frank Bassey

    The Pope should rather concentrate on the fight against corruption, sexual immorality, stealing of funds, homosexuality and other heinous vices that rule the Catholic church and which hide under the cover of the priests’ robes. He should look into the grievances of the people instead of playing God which is not the reality in this Babylonian Mystery Religion. This is why the Philippines authorities have risen against the church following the revelations contained in the book “Altar of Secretes” by a Philippines Journalist.

    • Jramza

      Frank, stop going to weird internet sites.

  • Malik Isah

    Can you see what Buhari and the Fulanis have caused for the biafrans again. They are making them to reject the Bishop appointed for them and on top of that trying to make the Pope oppress them. I think They need to get their own Catholic church and their own Pope at this point too. They should not agree

  • Mart1963

    The Jesuit, Illuminati, Knights of Columbus and Masonic share very similar Oaths indicating they are just different branches of the same tree.

    Some well read secret society researchers such as Michael Tsarion will suggest that the Jesuits are closely tied to the Illuminati, or basically are behind the Illuminati. Through the study of the history and symbolism of these groups it can become evident of their close connection. Even the founder of the Bavarian Illuminati, Adam Weishaupt, was a Jesuit priest

    People often wonder if the Jesuits take orders from the Vatican, or if the Vatican actually takes orders from the Jesuits. People such as Eric Jon Phelps will go so far as to say that the Black Pope, the leader of the Jesuits, is the most powerful man on the earth but with the current Pope, who is a Jesuit, it seems they have openly taken control of the Catholic Church itself.

    The Catholic church is being destroyed from within and from without by it’s enemies who have seized control of that organization. It is hemorrhage it’s resources by countless liability cases against it and needs to restructure itself so that each church/dioceses is a separate entity owned by the people of that church otherwise it will be bled out as a whole.

    When those who sue the church and indeed the knee jerk reaction of those in the Catholic church itself fail to realize is that these people are legally stealing money off the majority of innocent people in that church when they win their cases against the guilty parties who committed these offenses in the first place.

    The tactic these Masons, Jesuits and others of the occult use to control nations/organizations/churches is to infiltrate an organization/nation/churches and get into positions of power. They get into these positions of power by popularity because they are well financed, by finding a weakness in those who are in positions of power and exploiting it e.g. getting one of their child sex slaves to have sex with that person in authority as well as bring people into that entity with low morals, if that fails they will cause division within that entity and finally if all else fails that entity will be destroyed by outside forces that they control.

    It seems they have finished with the Catholic church and their mission now is to destroy it because in general they still worship Christ and not their god who is Lucifer.

    There are 4 main branches of this Masonic order which are a religious branch, a political branch, a financial branch and a military branch which are all coordinated by the top triangle of the pyramid representing this structure of power. Following the stream uphill and we find the Grand Lodge is based in London, the 32nd degree is called the subliminal prince of the royal secrets and other degrees within the organization have titles of the royal courts eg knight of the …

    Above all these organizations is the Royal Gartr whose head is the ruling monarch.

    Daniel tells us that the lion(England) will have it’s Eagle(US) wings ripped off(War of independents) and later a lion will stand up as a man and the mind of a man will be given to him. (See the prince’s coat of arms for the standing lion king). This prince has also stated when he becomes king he will be known as the defender of the faiths, the world savior (type in google images Prince Savior World).

    Revelations tells us that the Beast, representing the one world UN government, will have a lion’s mouth and the number of the beast is the number of a man, this lion beast man of Daniel.

  • bright

    The ways of God is not the ways of men, every one he chose is for a purpose, both the priests and the president misleading the people God will surely pay you back. Politics in the church, take example of chidi okoroafor whom they fought all they could not be GS of AGC but today after all the battle God has put were he want to be in church. The Bible also remind us that wisdom of men is foolishness unto God.

  • repletus

    Who are these people to say where the bishop must come from? If every diocese acted in this way the Church would be in anarchy and unable to function. Obey the directive of the Pope who represents Christ and the Church or go found your own church, not in communion with the Church founded by Jesus Christ.