Disciplining Father Mbaka falls on Bishop of Enugu – Bishop Kaigama
Says prosperity preaching not style of Catholic Church
By Sam Eyoboka
Former National President, Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama reacts thus: “We heard the news about what happened down there in Enugu and it is quite disturbing because it’s not in our character as Catholic priests to delve into partisan politics and we do not engage in prophetic utterances about politics.
If anything our prophetic ministry should be about the promotion of good, how to condemn evil and to talk about injustice in the society and things like that.
“In a nutshell it’s not in our character to delve into such political issues neither do we encourage priests to prophesy about who wins or loses elections. No, that’s not what a Catholic priest should do and that is clearly stated in our Cannon Law and in our mode of convention too. It’s not because we do not encourage political matters or developments but we shouldn’t be partisan or take sides and delve into it in that manner,” the Catholic Archbishop of Jos made the distinction.
Continuing, he emphasized that Catholic priests who have spent 10 or more years studying Theology and Philosophy are duty bound by the doctrines of the church which stipulate that priests must stay away from partisan politics.
“So, anyone who hears that a Catholic priest has been so politically involved like that will not be happy because it’s not in line with our tradition and character,” the former CBCN president said. When asked whether it was right for the priest to threaten candidates to make open their donation or incur the wrath of God, this is how he responded: “Our work is not a business.
“Our ministry is an established institution. Yes, we need resources; human, material, spiritual and otherwise to go ahead with the work of God but you don’t force people to contribute and you don’t blackmail people into donating. We need funds to do our work but certainly not at all costs.
“We respect people who come to our church and they should freely give whether as collection in the church or tithe or donation. They should not be molested or pressurized into donating to the church,” Archbishop Kaigama stated.
Asked the kind of punishment for any priest who had fallen short of the church’s doctrine, the immediate past CBCN president said such action is at the discretion of his presiding bishop.
“The priest knows that money should not be the central theme of his ministry which is well known to all Catholic clergy and when any priest falls out of line, the whole Catholic is worried and feels embarrassed but we always allow the individual diocesan bishop to deal with such erring priest.
“The diocesan bishop whose primary duty it is to care for the Laity and Clergy in the diocese owes a responsibility to ensure that there is sanity and he makes every effort to bring the erring priest to line. At the national level, we allow his bishop to take the necessary steps to bring about sanity in the diocese and I am sure the Bishop of Enugu knows what to do in this case,” Kaigama said.
According to him, the Catholic Church as a whole and in this case, “the Catholic Church in Nigeria knows that it is not our style. Prosperity preaching is not our style. We don’t attract people to our church in order to exploit them, financially or materially. Every Catholic priest trained in Theology and Philosophy for 10 years is aware of this. So, the appropriate steps will be taken to serve as deterrent to other priests who may want to toy similar lines in future.”
Kaigama will not be dragged into the type of reprimand to be meted to Rev. father Ejike Mbaka, saying there are several options available to his bishop, in this case the bishop of Diocese of Enugu.
CAN in 17 Southern states disown Father Mbaka
Apostle Joseph Ajujungwa is the Secretary for the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN in the 17 Southern states of the nation. He told Saturday Vanguard that his Association joins other well meaning Christian organisations including the Catholic Church that has condemned the statement credited to Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka.
Rising from a regional meeting of Enugu State CAN in Enugu, Apostle Ajujungwa said he was in touch with the South East CAN chairman who was also unhappy with the antics of the chairman of Adoration Ground, Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka.
“I can tell you that the umbrella body of Christians in Enugu State and the South East as a whole has dissociated itself from the statement made by Father Mbaka. He was speaking for himself because what he was doing was fund raising.
“He was not speaking on behalf of the Catholic Church in Enugu or in Nigeria as a whole. CAN has condemned what he said because everything he said was embarrassing to the Christian community as a whole and we are not in support of it,” Ajujungwa told our reporter, adding that even the Catholic Church too has voiced its disapproval of the priest’s behavior.
“It’s quite unfortunate! Even the Enugu Diocese of the Church has dissociated itself from the statement. Even yesterday, I was with the Chairman of CAN South East, Bishop Goddy Okafor who was vehement in his condemnation of Mbaka’s unorthodox approach to fund raising,” he maintained.
According to him, at this critical period of politics in Nigeria we are not part and parcel of such utterances from the pulpit in the country “and dissociate ourselves from such utterances.
“Nobody is happy with such acts, bringing politicians to the altar of God and making such demands. Even if you have a project, there are better ways to raise fund for church projects instead of cajoling and threatening politicians in the name of the Lord and making false statements as if you are God,” he stated.
“It’s absurd. Making false statements as if the highest bidder takes it all. That’s what he was saying. It’s an embarrassment to the Church of Jesus Christ in Nigeria and we are saying that nobody should associate the Church with such unholy utterances. Mbaka was not speaking on behalf of the Church either in Enugu State, South East or CAN in the 17 Southern states of the country,” Ajujungwa stated.