- Fr. Phillip Jamang stated that the Catholic church and the Pope had been demeaned by the actions of those members of the Ahiara diocese who rejected Bishop Okpalaeke
- Jamang urged for unity among all Catholics and Christians at large as he noted that it was strange for any Catholic faithful to insist that his or her bishop must be a native of the area
- An ultimatum issued by Pope Francis to the diocese to accept Okpalaeke and apologize over their “unruly behavior” to him or face sanctions has now elapsed without compliance
The rejection of Peter Okpalaeke by some members of the Ahiara catholic diocese, Mbaise, Imo state, has been described as a 'disgrace' to the Catholic church by Philip Jamang, a Catholic priest.
In an interview with NAN on Monday July 3, Jamang, who is the parish priest of Church of Assumption, Chongo Pyel, Jos, stated that it was particularly wrong for some priests to support someone else against a bishop appointed by the Pope.
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He stated: “Their action is strange; it is an insult never heard of in the Catholic Church."
For more than four years after the death of its pioneer bishop, the Ahiara Catholic diocese has remained without a replacement.
Okpalaeke who was rejected by the people, was appointed and consecrated in 2012.
NAIJ.com gathered that citing clannish differences, Okpalaeke was rejected by a section of Mbaise priests, supported by a segment of the laity.
The head of the Catholic Church Pope Francis issued a 30day ultimatum to the diocese to accept Okpalaeke and apologize over their “unruly behavior” to him or face sanctions, in May 2017.
The ultimatum was not complied with, and it expired last month.
According to Jamang, the Catholic church and the sacred place of the pope had been demeaned by the action of the priests and the laity in the Ahiara diocese.
He said: “The Catholic Church is a united entity known for sanity and dignity. If today some sections of the Church, including priests in Ahiara, are rejecting a bishop on the basis of clan, then something is really wrong.
“Most of the bishops are not natives of dioceses where they serve.
“Bishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, for instance, is from Jalingo in Taraba. Bishop Mathew Kukah of the Sokoto Diocese is from Kaduna state.
“For any Catholic faithful to insist that his or her bishop must be a native of the area he is posted is very odd and strange.”
Jamang appealed for unity among Catholics and all Christians, while urging the Christian faithful to pray for the unity of the church and the nation.
Recall that NAIJ.com previously reported that Pope Francis lashed out at some Nigerian priests at the Catholic diocese, Ahiara, Imo state and threatened to suspend them over their refusal to accept Bishop Peter Ebere Okpalaeke.
Okpalaeke, an Igbo man from Anambra state, who was appointed by Benedict XVI, was rejected by Catholic leaders in Ahiara because he was not from Mbaise town.
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