Church in politics and the Ahiara saga

Ahiara Diocese

The church in politics is still one essential call to duty which the church obviously by my own assessment is not having a top notch control over. She has lost control of it completely with an indifferent approach that overly suggests “we are not called to it.” How true this is stands to be proved or invalidated. But the question is, if the church is not called into politics, how can the polity be sanitised?

The church is gradually shrinking into an institution that is weaved and carved around politics, oftentimes very destructive to the growth of our spirituality.

Everything about her is slowly being politicised. Appointments which should be guided by the process and procedure of the election of Mathias in the Acts of the Apostles has been hijacked by human interest, sentiments, affiliation and ethnic and clout alignment. By day, the faithful keep being served with bitter pills arising from conspiracy. What you see often is nothing but baskets of opportunists, hangers on, detractors and men and women who are not regenerated but are moved and controlled by crave of human carnality.

Perhaps that could be the reason behind the many years of ordeal hoisted on Ahiara faithful since the demise of the pioneer bishop, the late Bishop Adibe Chikwe. He died a good man, leaving Ahiara diocese in one good piece. For three years, the diocese was held in suspense as who would step into his good big shoes. From nowhere, nothing seen, nothing heard, against the canonical processes of producing a bishop, a bishop emerged. An anointed one, may be holier, more priestly, more educated, more favoured and possibly more connected than all the priests within the Owerri Ecclesiastical province.

Ever since then, it has been one big battle, against such barefaced injustice and marginalisation. The bishop of Okigwe Diocese presently is from Onitsha Province. The late bishop of Aba Diocese was from same Province. Same province produced the impeded bishop of Ahiara, with an alleged game plan of moving him to Owerri archdiocese as the metropolitan Archbishop on the retirement of Most Rev. Dr. Obinna. All by same power bloc from same clime, same agenda and same strategy.

The priests of Ahiara Diocese have roundly been criticised by those who chose to live in denial of the overly injustice meted to them. Disobedient, recalcitrant, prideful, arrogant are name tags for them. But who cares? Once their actions are justified and nonviolent.

Surprisingly none has bothered to ask questions on how it all started and why there has been four years of ban on sacraments of confirmation and Holy Order on the innocent faithful. The priests of Ahiara Diocese have been accused of disobeying the Pope, the spiritual head of the Church and the representative of Christ, but none to those who were asked to administer the diocese, but rather decided to go against the biblical injunction of Christ. Is that Christ like?

I ask, what is the connection between the agitation of the priests and the failure to administer sacraments of ordination and confirmation? If God should deal with us in this measure, withdrawing air, water, sun, etc simply because we disobey him, I wonder who will survive it.

I love my diocese, I love the resiliency of Ahiara priests in the face of brazen and heinous injustice orchestrated by a cabal within the local church, who will stop at nothing to entrench nepotism at the sanctuary of God.

If anyone takes possession of Ahiara today, it would be neither out of forceful imposition nor barefaced arm-twisting braggadocio by the cabal but rather in deference to the call of His Holiness.

They may be singing songs of victory, they may be dancing a dance of intimidation and victimisation arising from the purported papal pronouncement, demanding an apology letter from all the priests in the diocese of Ahiara, but the truth is, any victory that comes with negativity, suppressed feeling of pains and animosity is a cursed victory.

This is not the first time this script is being bandied around. It is not new to us. We are neither scared nor intimidated. We perfectly understand the game of desperation and braggadocio that the local force is leveraging on to hoist and force Bishop Okpaleke down the throat of Ahiara. The last has not been heard of that visit. It is a story still evolving. We are watching. The international community and media are watching, with rapt attention. The truth is we should try to find an amicable and convergent point of reconciliation .

If rules are made, it should be seen to be enforced without any segregatory colouration. God is the God of order and principles. Catholic Church is known for its respect for doctrines and dogma, how come there is a detour in the case of Ahiara? Could it be that the Priests of Ahiara are considered to be inconsequential to be consulted in this matter?

If the above is anything to go by, the question is where is the fairness?

In all these, my joy and consolation lay in 2Cor 4:7-15 ‘But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side yet not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed. Always carrying about in the body the dying of the lord Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.’

Ahiara is a great olive tree, whose survival is not dependent on the harsh environment, but on the inbuilt grace to survive in spite of all odds.

Through this struggle, a great statement has been made: ‘‘Injustice is an open wound which truth can only heal.’’ This will continue to reverberate in the conscience of people.

We have gone pass the era of law, we are now in the era of grace. Let the church employ grace in dealing with this matter than sticking to the infallibility of the Pope whenever he speaks ex-cathedral as the only option to this imbroglio. Over time the church has had reason to apologise over statements or actions made in the past which were then seen as infallible. How sure are we that this Ahiara case will not turn out to be another case of church’s fallibility?

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