By Sam Eyoboka
THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, an organ of unity, communion and solidarity for the millions of Catholics in the 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory, has reacted to a recent recommendation by one of their members over the Ahiara Mbaise Diocesan crisis, describing Bishop Joseph Bagobiri’s letter as containing many false misleading affirmations.
A letter dated December 5, 2017 and signed by CBCN President, Most Rev. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama and His Vice President, Most Rev. Augustine Obiora Akubeze described Bishop Bagobiri’s letter as ill-timed and capable of depeening the crisis that has endured for about five years.
The Catholic Bishops therefore demanded that the Kafanchan Bishop should “immediately issue another statement through the public media withdrawing in its entirety your earlier statement and apologizing to the Holy Father, the CBCN, Bishop Peter Okpalaeke, and the people of God in Ahiara Diocese for the damage your statement is already doing.”
The Catholic Bishop of Kafanchan, Kaduna State, Bishop Joseph Danlami Bagobiri, last week broke ranks with his fellow Catholic Bishops urging relevant authorities to “give Ahiara a bishop close to their hearts,” throwing his weight behind the embattled Ahiara Diocese, who had rejected a bishop posted to them — for violation of due process.
In a statement personally signed by him, Most Rev. Bagobiri, drew inference from a similar incidence several years ago, urging his colleagues to adopt a home-grown response to the Ahiara Mbaise saga, stressing that the crisis that ensued with the appointment of Bishop Peter Okpalaeke as the second bishop of the diocese of Ahiara to succeed late Bishop Victor Chikwe, which could have been avoided, has lingered on now for about five years.
Reacting to that minority position, CBCN made up of all the archbishops and bishops of the 54 ecclesiastical jurisdictions, as shepherds of souls in their arch-dioceses and dioceses, frowned at Bishop Bagobiri’s “unkind” indictment of the CBCN over the crisis.