Following the rumbling and raging controversies concerning the Ahiara Bishopric Crises, people have provided diversified views on the matter. Here is the view of Msgr. Nathaniel Ndiokwere, a Catholic Priest of Orlu Diocese.
1. I will have good understanding for the ‘rebel-side’s’ inability to
attend the Vatican Summit. Rightly they suspected that a decision about
the AHIARA debacle had been made, months ago. There was no need to go
to Rome to argue with the Pope, Christ’s representative on earth.
I will examine the cases and documents submitted by both sides
thoroughly well, especially those submitted by my very representatives,
informants and mediators, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, nuncios and
others. Only the Holy Spirit knows that they might have been biased in
their reports, taken sides, and even blatantly lied; thus misinforming
His Holiness. One simple example: The people of God were shocked to hear
or read from the released newspaper report that the kind, fatherly,
peace-loving Pope Francis used such harsh Council of Trent
Excommunication language while addressing the so-called intransigent or
dissident, renegade African priests! “……..If they didn't submit each,
personal letters of apology within one month …..ipso facto….!!! Wow!!
Not Pope Francis! One of the Pope’s Representatives (Most Rev NN) had a
year or two ago issued that very ultimatum! “The voice of Jacob but the
hands of Jacob but the hands of Esau!” (Gen:27.22). Many Catholics in
Nigeria and elsewhere NEVER thought such language was in anyway
‘reconciliatory’ in nature or could have come from Pope Francis! No way!
Pope Francis does not accommodate fraudulent activities.
Francis, Father of the poor; Father of the oppressed and Voice of the
voiceless is NOT a harsh Pope, unkind and merciless Shepherd of of
Christ’s flock of AHIARA MBAISE Catholics, denied specially Sacraments
of Priestly Ordination and Confirmation for past 4 years or more. Are
they not poor and oppressed members of Christ flock? If Muslims are
persecuting and denying them such spiritual privileges what will
Christians all over the world say? “TIT FOR TAT. BURN THEM, LET THEM
SUFFER, THEIR PRIESTS ARE STUBBORN, LET THEM DIE IN THEIR SINS!”
If I were the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on Earth I must go beyond my
informants and representatives to find out what and how Christians and
Catholics in Nigeria are suffering under the hegemony of Islamic
Jihadists. Muslims from the North are rapidly moving South slaughtering
Igbos and Nigerian Christians. AHIARA-MBAISE is Igbo heartland and
predominantly catholic. Igbos cannot be quarreling over a bishopric
leadership when the catholic faith in our land is under threat from
Islamic fundamentalists. There is need to settle this bishopric case as
well as that of ABA so soon so that Igbo Catholics will go about their
business and suffer less from political and church leadership tussles in
5. If I were the pope I will be very cautious in the way
this AHIARA case is settled. If badly handled it may affect the future
of the Catholic Church and Christianity in Nigeria and in fact Africa.
Friend or foe, we must acknowledge that MBAISE is the most fertile land
for vocations in the catholic priesthood and religious life. The sooner
this case is settled the better. Nigerians should never rejoice when
their brothers and sisters are in pains and suffering!
6. It has to
be noted down correctly that the so-called “dissident” MBAISE priests
and the lay people behind them are not rejecting Bishop Okpalaeke on the
“Son of the Soil” theory. Have MBAISE capable, qualified priests for
the bishopric office! Oh Yes! Too many for that matter! But these same
people rejected their own candidates, too, nominated for the office of
the Bishop of AHIARA!! You can ask. There are other reasons why it is
very important to closely look into the “local grievances and roots” of
the protests and rejection.
7. Finally, If I were the pope, I will
re-assign Bishop Okpalaeke. He can be sent to another diocese or given
any other bishopric assignment. But after final representation from
MBAISE PRESBYTERIUM and careful reflection by the Holy Father, the Papal
decision must be accepted by the PEOPLE OF GOD IN AHIARA-MBAISE. Peace
of the Lord be with you!
Msgr. Nathaniel Ndiokwere is a Catholic Priest of Orlu Diocese.