Mbaise Catholic Priests protest Vicar-General Appointment

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What is remaining of the Catholic Diocese of Ahiara Mbaise in Imo State was last week laid bare as more than 200 priests from the diocese trooped out to protest the appointment of one of their own, Rev. Fr. Clement Ebii as the Vicar General of the Diocese by the Apostolic Administrator, John Cardinal Onaiyekan.

The priests, it was learnt, also sponsored the Catholic Women Organisation to embark on another round of demonstration to force Cardinal Onaiyekan to withdraw that appointment, saying the appointment of Fr. Ebii was part of the “desperate attempts of Cardinal Onaiyekan to further cause the internal crisis in the diocese”.
The appointment of Fr. Ebii followed the resignation of Rev. Fr. Professor Louis Asiegbu last April, whose advice that the pro-Bishop Okpalaeke priests should not be given viable parishes(as part of their punishment), was ignored by Cardinal Onaiyekan, who instead, posted one of the priests, Fr. Chima Ahaneku to St. Patrick’s Parish Umuokrika Ekwereazu.

While some of the protesting priests, who demonstrated at the Mater Ecclesiae Cathedral, Ahiara Mbaise, accused Onaiyekan of trying to use the appointment of Fr. Ebii to bring back the “rejected” Bishop Okpalaeke, others accused Fr. Ebii of scheming to become the new bishop of the diocese.

One of the protesting priests and Editor-in-chief of The Guide (Ahiara Diocese Newspaper), Rev. Fr.Kingsley Anyanwu, described the appointment as weird, saying that Fr. Ebii had not been in good standing with the diocese since three years now. learnt from another priest that the main reason for the rejection of Fr. Ebii as the Vicar General was because “he is one of the eight Ahiara Diocesan priests who have been working hard for the installation of the rejected and impeded Bishop Okpalaeke in Ahiara Diocese”.

The priest who did not mention his name said, “In his determination to bring Bishop Okpalaeke back to the diocese, Fr. Ebii has done so many unspeakable things to discredit the presbyterium of Ahiara Diocese. Just last month, he reported to the police authorities in Owerri and Abuja that the priests of Ahiara Diocese were out to kidnap and murder him. He later submitted the names of eight priests of the diocese for being responsible for the attempted kidnap and murder”.

The priests accused Fr. Ebii of detesting the fellowship of his fellow. “He does not attend priests’ monthly recollection neither does he attend priests’ annual retreats. He has refused to meet up with his obligations to the diocesan chancery office. He has more than 55 debts to the diocese hanging around his neck.”

Investigations by reveal that following the manner some senior priests schemed to become the bishop of the diocese after the death of Bishop Victor Chikwe by mudslinging others, as well the manner many priests in the diocese behaved towards Bishop Okpalaeke, Fr. Ebii, a parish priest of Rose’s Catholic Church, Ihitte in Ezinihitte Mbaise LGA, decided to avoid their association.
Since then, he had bluntly refused to pay burial levies for deceased fellow priests as well as refusing to allow his parishioners to participate in any common activity of the diocese as well as imposing sanctions on any of his parishioners that participates in the diocesan or deanery ceremonies.

He was said to have rejected senior seminarians posted to his parish for the six-week Apostolic work.

During the crisis last year where the priests stopped Bishop Okpalaeke from assuming office, Fr. Ebii was said to have declared publicly that he had broken communion with the Ahiara Diocesan Presbyterium until further notice, describing the actions of the priests of the diocese as antichrist and demonic.

With this in mind, the priests vowed that they would not be alive to see Fr. Ebii superintend over them as the vicar.

It was gathered that the priests had instigated the members of St. Patrick’s Umuokrika to reject the posting of Rev. Fr. Chima Ahaneku to the parish by Cardinal Onaiyekan, citing his supportive role to the rejected Bishop Okpalaeke

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Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

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