Ahiara Catholic Diocese Crisis; Protesters Storm Imo Church, Reject Pope’s Decision

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There was tension yesterday at the Ahiara Catholic Diocese in Ahiazu Mbaise Council Area of Imo state as the planned public protest and procession by the laity council over the appointment of Peter Ebele Okpalaeke as the Bishop of the diocese was aborted by the heavy presence of armed policemen and other security agencies who were stationed at all strategic junctions leading to the diocese.

Over 3, 000 faithful of Ahiara Diocese of the Catholic Church converged on the Mater Ecclesiae cathedral, Mbaise in Imo State for a rally to restate their total rejection of the embattled Bishop Peter Ebele Okpaleke.

Okpaleke was anointed and consecrated bishop of the diocese by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 but both the Laity Council and the priests in the diocese rejected his appointed on the grounds that he is not an indigene of the area, among other reasons.

The angry faithful of the diocese said they were only fighting alleged imposition of a bishop on the diocese and not the Catholic Pontiff.

The diocesan youths, who put on black attire, chanted solidarity songs to reaffirm their support for the position taken by the Ahiara Diocese clerics and the laity council’s to rejection of Okpaleke.

Other Catholic men and women who dressed in different church uniforms, also participated in the rally, which started with a rosary procession round the cathedral.

This was just as the Imo state Governor, Rochas Okorocha has appealed for calm.

has appealed for calm, urging the priests and laity of the diocese to sheathe their swords.

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