The Ahiara Diocese Saga in Nigeria

March 1, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

 

By

Joseph Besong

 

 

Priesthood, as known by the church, especially the Catholics, is a sacred call from God. No one takes it by merit, power, riches, class or ethnicity. Many vocation stories affirm that assertion despite human frailty in decisions taken by the formators which has left many Christians wondering whether man can make a  mistake in determining who finally gets ordained as priests. Some Ahiara priests, parish members and elites who rejected bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke, have proven without doubt that man is human and at times goes his/her own way abandoning the ways of God.

 

Pope Francis’ intervention into the matter didn’t help to deter the Ahiara people standing their ground. They want a bishop from the Ahiara area. They want one of them even though Bishop Okpaleke is not a stranger. He might not be an indigene of Ahiara but a neighbour who understands the people, cultures, way of life and needs but the Ahiara people say no to him and even to the pontiff. It has been heart-breaking for the world to perceive the reality and motive behind the rejection of this man of God. Many are quick to suggest that tribalism is the brain behind the whole saga. The Ahiara people have complained since the crisis broke out about the fact they don’t have a bishop who comes from Ahiara considering the fact that Ahiara produces more priests than any area in the country. Many agree with them but forgetting priesthood is a call and being a bishop is a mere appointment. They might have a point but refusing to listen to church hierarchy, especially with the position of Pope Francis, is gross disobedience that is going to hunt them later in life.

 

To add, this rejection fell more in the hands of the appointed bishop of Ahiara diocese Mgr. Peter Okpaleke who couldn’t stand the rejection but asked for permission to resign. The resignation of Mgr. Okpaleke of Ahiara diocese has exposed the politics that exist in the church today. You might argue that there are no politics in the church but what just happened in Ahiara is a clear indication that there is some form of political infighting in the Catholic Church. Many Catholics don’t want to believe that behaviour like the rejection of a bishop is happening in the Church of God in the 21st century. Many have rejected priests in different parishes in the world but not compared to this magnitude.

 

Again, the diocese of Ahiara will need a bishop after this resignation. It’s a big test for the Church and to Francis who might want to please the people of Ahiara or stick to the teachings of the church. We are waiting to see how it plays out in the appointment of the new bishop. The Church is a house of God and the people constitute that Church. Africa is becoming a nursery for missionary priests for the Catholic churches in Europe and the U.S. This is because young people no longer join the seminaries, monasteries, convents, etc. The Ahiara saga might complicate the process of accepting these priests from Africa. The West might feel the African priests being tribalistic; politics might contaminate the good but few priests in their land. The world is watching Ahiara and waiting for a new shepherd for that diocese. God help the church.

 

 

 

 

joseph besong

Joseph Besong

I am the editor-in-chief of Kilimandjaro radio. I hail from Africa, precisely from Cameroon in Central Africa.

I did my secondary education at Bishop Rogan College Soppo-Buea located in the South West Region of Cameroon. After graduation, I proceeded to the University of Buea-Cameroon where I read English minor in Journalism and Mass Communication. I later worked in Cameroon as a broadcaster with Two radios namely Radio Evangelum and CBS Radio all located in Buea.

Presently, I work with Kilimandjaro radio, an online radio station based in Canada.

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