The Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria(CLCN) has condemned the priests and lay faithful of Ahiara Diocese over the protracted crisis in the diocese resulting from their refusal to accept the nomination of Bishop Peter Okpaleke as the bishop of the diocese.
The council in a press conference on Monday in Awka said the Mbaise people who mostly constitute the Ahiara Diocese have brought shame on the Catholic Church by refusing to accept Bishop Okpaleke, despite the intervention of the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
The chairman of the CLCN, Barr Chizoba Nnagboh who addressed journalists said, “The CLCN is completely scandalized and bewildered by the uncharitable and venomous utterances used against the hierarchy of the church by priests and lay faithful of the diocese.
“Is it not sad that priests of the Catholic Church could defy papal authority? We can not profess to be Catholics while our word and actions show the antithesis.”
He called on them to tread the path of peace and retrace their steps and respect the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, saying that the council frowns at such act and seriously repudiates the name calling, denigration and blackmail of the church by the people of the diocese.
Nnagboh said the action of the people of Ahiara Diocese by rejecting the order of the Pope to accept Bishop Okpaleke as their bishop has put the council in a quagmire and shamed it before the world.
He said, “Mbaise has brought the moral bar too low and brought disgrace to everybody. The recent appointment and peaceful installation of the Bishop of Ogoja who hails from Ikot Ekpene is instructive enough to the Ahiara people.
“The discordant tunes we still hear from Mbaise people ought not to be, the teachings of the church is enough to sway any aggrieved member to the path of obedience, especially with the intervention of the Pope,” He said.
Recall that the priests and lay faithful of Ahiara Catholic Diocese have been at logger heads with the church following the appointment of Bishop Peter Okpalaeke who hails from Anambra to oversee the diocese.
They believed they had their own sons in the priesthood who were qualified to be Bishop of the diocese, and that bringing Okpaleke from Anambra amounted to imposition.