– Emerging reports have it that Imo catholic community defied Pope Francis, insisting on removal of Bishop Peter Okpaleke
– President of the Diocesan Laity Council, Gerald Anyanwu, declared that Okpaleke was forced on them
– Anyanwu said anybody could be appointed whether a Hausa man or a Yoruba man as far as Okpaleke is removed
The Pope Francis’ order in a meeting that he had on Thursday, June 8 with a delegation from the Ahiara Diocese has been refused by 3,000 faithful of the Diocese of the Catholic Church.
The members were said to have protested the appointment of Bishop Peter Okpaleke.
Punch reports that the diocesan youths, on Sunday, July 2, 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.
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.
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 was not owned by the community.
NAIJ.com gathered that Pope Francis has given 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 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.
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 pope.
He also said they were not opposing Pope Francis I, but they were against the irregularities and injustices allegedly perfected against the people of the diocese in the selection of the bishop.
Anyanwu declared 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.”
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com had reported that Pope Francis had lashed out at some Nigerian priests at Catholic church, Ahiara, Imo state and threatened to suspend them over their refusal to accept Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke.
Okpaleke, 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.
Watch this NAIJ.com TV Video of Ex Bishop David Abioye’s driver quits Living Faith Church, converts to Islam: