BY CHIDI NKWOPARA
The Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis 1, has deployed John Cardinal Onaiyekan to take over administration of Mbaise Catholic Diocese immediately.
According to a statement by the Vatican, Cardinal Onaiyekan will take charge of the troubled diocese, pending determination of the fate of Bishop Peter Okpalaeke, who was rejected by most of the priests and laity in Ahiara Diocese.
Since the Vatican announced the name of Monsignor Peter Okpalaeke and his eventual consecration as the new Bishop of the Diocese, the area had remained turbulent and polarized.
Vanguard recalls that the ensuing schism had created factions within the clergy and laity, as there exists those who are for and against the appointment of Okpalaeke as the new Bishop.
The traditional rulers from the three local council areas of Maise are divided over the appointment and consecration Okpalaeke.
Confirming the development in an interview, the Director of Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu, prayed for return of peace to the doubled Diocese.
“John Cardinal Onaiyekan is expected to take charge, as well as undertake all bishopric duties, as well as help in calming frayed nerves among the warring factions,” Fr. Nwachukwu said.
It was not too clear at press time what would happen to Bishop Okpalaeke, even as it was not clear how long Onaiyekan would remain in Mbaise in the discharge of his current assignment.
Fr. Nwachukwu, however, revealed that the Pope appoints an apostolic administrator when a See was vacant.