Ahiara Diocese crisis: Kaigama calls for sword-shelving

Ahiara-Protests

Catholic faithful of Ahiara Diocese, Mbaise, Imo State, last July, against imposition of Bishop Peter Okpaleke, at the Cathedral premises. PHOTO: CHARLES OGUGBUAJA (The Guardian)

Catholic faithful of Ahiara Diocese, Mbaise, Imo State, last July, against imposition of Bishop Peter Okpaleke, at the Cathedral premises
Catholic faithful of Ahiara Diocese, Mbaise, Imo State, last July, against imposition of Bishop Peter Okpaleke, at the Cathedral premises. PHOTO: CHARLES OGUGBUAJA (The Guardian)

The Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, has appealed to priests and lay faithful of Ahiara Diocese to shelve their swords and accept Most Rev. Peter Okpalaeke as their consecrated Bishop.

Kaigama, who is also the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Jos.

NAN reports that Ahiara Catholic Diocese has remained without a Bishop, more than four years after the death of its pioneer, Bishop, Rt. Rev. Victor Chikwe.

Okpalaeke, who was appointed and consecrated in 2012 was the rejection based on clannish differences, sources said.

In May, the Pope gave the Diocese a 30-day ultimatum to accept Okpalaeke and apologise over its unruly behaviour to him or face sanctions.

Pope Francis writes rebellious priests of Ahiara diocese, Mbaise in Imo State

The ultimatum expired in June with compliance from some priests while others remain adamant.

According to kaigama, the church has not been pleasant with the lingering crisis rocking the Diocese in the past years.

“We are not happy that the church in Ahiara is outside the system for this long.

“We are particularly not happy that the name of Nigeria is ringing in different parts of the world as people who are disloyal to the authority of the Pope.

“But it is our fervent prayer that the people of Ahiara will see reason and come back to the church that is founded on the obedience to the authority of God.

“We sincerely pray and appeal to the priests and indeed the people, to put their grievances aside and accept Bishop Okpalaeke so that the work of God can continue, ” he appealed.

Kaigama also called on Christians to pray for God’s intervention for the return of normalcy in the Diocese so that His gospel would be propagated well.