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I decided to delve into this “controversial” topic today first, because of the brotherly bond and the affable tier of relative affinity that exist between me and Ndi Mbaise having spent half of my lifetime in that area.

I decided to delve into this “controversial” topic today first, because of the brotherly bond and the affable tier of relative affinity that exist between me and Ndi Mbaise having spent half of my lifetime in that area.

So whatever concerns them also concerns me. The level of controversy in that Diocese has accelerated to an alarming proportion which is not healthy for the Church of Christ at all.
Secondly, as a Christian who shares in the Trinitarian Communion of the flesh and blood of Christ, (though am not a Catholic) and lastly as a prolific analyst who believes in the gamut of Journalistic ethics of objective reportage, investigative journalism, disparaging and scintillating analysis. As someone brought up in an environment where truth always remains sacrosanct, I am meant to know the truth, speak the truth, defend the truth and promote the truth knowing that only the truth can set us free, no matter whose Ox is gored.
There is no doubt that the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ in Ahiara Catholic Diocese has continued to remained in the threshold of conflicts and gridlock for more than four years now over the appointment of Most Revd Peter Ebere Okpaleke of Awka Diocese by Pope Benedict XVI as Catholic Bishop of Ahiara Diocese following the death of the former Bishop Most Rev Victor Adibe Chikwe.
However, Bishop Okpaleke's appointment as the Bishop of Ahiara Diocese was vehemently repudiated by the laity on the ground that the he (Bishop Okpaleke) is not an indigenous Priest of Mbaise. This triggered controversy and misunderstanding since 2012 thereby threatening the peace of the Church. A renowned French writer Michael De Montaigne once postulated that “the greatest and glorious masterpiece of every Christian is to live to the standard of spiritual purpose” Living to spiritual purpose requires the combination of godliness, righteousness and grace which no doubt remains the vertex that underpin the spiritual sobriety of man on earth and also a pedestal to life eternity through the church.
It is really unfortunate that the church which is a sacred and divine institution ordained by Christ himself has been influenced by the secular principles of tribalism and nepotism. The ecclesiastical mandate of the church has been bastardized and subjected to undue competiveness that characterizes the secular political offices. This lingering Bishopric squabble in that Diocese has turned into a monstrous cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabrics of the ecclesiastical mandate of the church. The tribal sentiments and indigenous ties tenaciously attached to the appointment of a Bishop is a sign of secular encroachment to the mandate of divinity. From theological point of view every priest upon ordination is cut-off from every earthly tribal tree or indigenous lining. Also as Christians who carry the mark of Christ in their forehead, we should understand that our destiny and future is no more tied to the enslavement of any indigenous or ethnic lining rather we should have focus on eternity which is the driving force of our existentialism and foundation. We should not forget that we are born in Christ for a new life with heavenly nativity which supersedes our earthly identity. This indeed gives us a new sense of being and connects us as one body in Christ Jesus to the Trinitarian Communion. As priests they suppose to know better than me. Also from eschatological purview, our origin is of God, we are not of the earth rather we are on the move to eternity. So with these understandings I don't see any reason why posting of a non-indigenous priest as a Bishop can ignite flam of controversy. If not that the traditions of the church have been polluted with venoms of politics, maybe the Diocese wouldn't have raised eyebrow. Maybe they suspected fowl-play on the long-run. But let me ask, should it be so? Even at the Papal level? Haba!
As Christian faithful, it is worthy to note that the goal of life is not to be pursued solely through attachment of indigenous ties but through fervent prayers which is the instrument for the pursuit to greater goal of eternity. It is indeed unfortunate that the appointment cum posting of Bishop which is a sacred exercise devoid of any tribal and indigenous sentiments has been subjected to the realms of profanity. The condition and process of appointing a Bishop as clearly stated in the canon law is a stringent process which gives the Pope the exclusive power of taking a final decision. Figuratively speaking, it is the exclusive prerogative of the Pope who is the supreme pontiff to decide who becomes a Bishop and also influence his posting. If on the other hand the posting becomes influence by any factor, it then becomes a different ball game. To further calibrate, Canon 378.1 of the Code of Canon Law states inter alia that a candidate for episcopate must be a priest outstanding In strong faith, good morals, piety, zeal for soul, wisdom, prudence and have human virtues, such person must not be less than five years in priesthood and less than 35 years of age. So tribal sentiments and ethnic consideration are never yardstick for appointment and posting of a bishop. Even the widely canvassed maxim that a bishop for the Diocese should be chosen from among the indigenous priests is not so elastic to provide a precedential pedestal to prevail over the canon law which is the fulcrum in which the dogma of the Catholic Church revolves. In the course of my investigation, I found out that the late Bishop Victor Adibe Chikwe before his death sent his secret lists which contains three names of episcopate candidates to the Papal legate. Unfortunately there were series of petitions and counter-petitions against these indigenous Priests of Mbaise on the contest that it must be an Aboh man, Ezinihitte or Ahiazu man. Then under this quagmire, who is to be blamed?
But come to think of it, is posting of Bishops to Diocese outside their tribes not a global Catholic tradition? For instance, the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Revd Mathew Hassan Kukah is an indigene of Kaduna Diocese, the Catholic Bishop of Abuja Archdiocese, Archbishop Cardinal John Onaiyekan is not a Gwari Indigene, the Archbishop of the Diocese of Joe, Archbishop Ignatius kiagama is from kafanchan, the Bishop of the Diocese of Zaria Bishop George Dodo is from Kaduna Diocese, Archbishop Vincent Nichole of West Minister in the UK is from Birmingham, even the former Bishop of New York City Cardinal Timothy Dolan is from Milwankee and so many other examples.
In the light of the foregoing and reference to the fact that the respect and welfare of the Catholic Church depends on the dignity of the papacy, so it will be a voyage into infidelity and insubordination to the church if the laity continues to ignite the flame of controversy on that Diocese. Having stated all these, they should also remember that absolute fidelity to papal instructions, faithfulness to the Holy See and above all obedience to the Holy Spirit is the hallmark of Catholicism. It is also now clear to all that Ahiara Diocese is now counting its losses due to this lingering squabble. For instance, the church has been denied the Sacrament of Confirmation, Chrism Mass, Priesthood Ordinations and most importantly love and peace of the Holy Spirit which are the noble principles for righteous living. No meaningful spiritual impact will be recorded in this diocese under this atmosphere of conflicts and controversy. Bet me. What am saying earnest is that this is the time stop all manner of acrimony and gridlocks and give peace a chance so that Christ will bless Church. I rest my case.

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