Bishop rejected by priests resigns

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Bishop of Ahiara in Nigeria, Peter Ebere Okpaleke. The bishop had been rejected by the local priests.

Bishop Okpaleke, who was appointed in 2012, found it difficult to exercise his ministry as the majority of priests had refused to work with him because he is not a local man. Protestors had even blocked the cathedral and prevented his installation. In addition, over 400,000 Catholics petitioned against the appointment.

Many priests had even refused the 30-day ultimatum given by Pope Francis, who had ordered them to write a letter promising obedience to him and accepting the bishop appointed to their diocese. 

Fides reported that now the Pope has accepted the resignation of the bishop and hopes that with the new apostolic administrator, “the local Church will recover its vitality and never again suffer such actions that so wound the Body of Christ”.

‘The apostles were much smaller’

In a recent speech at Georgetown University, US, Iraqi Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said: “Without an end to this persecution and violence, there is no future for religious pluralism in Iraq or anywhere else in the Middle East for that matter.

“We Christian people, who have endured persecution in patience and faith for 1,400 years, now face an existential struggle. It is possibly the last struggle that we will face in Iraq. So few of us are left, some estimate 200,000 Christians or less. While it is true that our numbers are small, the apostles were much smaller. We forgive those who murdered us, who tortured us, who raped us, who sought to destroy everything about us. We forgive them in the name of Christ.”         

Bishops warn president

The bishops of Tanzania have taken a very strong stand against the anti-democratic actions of President John Magufuli. In a recent pastoral letter, they attacked “violations of the constitution and national laws” by the President, noting that “political activities are restricted by the forces of law and order”.

“Party political activities, such as public meetings, demonstrations, rallies, debates inside premises, which are, after all, every citizen’s right, have been suspended until the next elections,” which take place in 2020, the bishops wrote.

The government’s actions against media outlets critical of the government brought the condemnation of the bishops, saying that “such an attitude restricts peoples’ right to information, freedom of opinion and expression and their right to privacy”.

(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)


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