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Mar 16, 2018


The Apostolic Administrator of Ahiara Diocese and Bishop of Umuahia, Most Rev. Lucius Uforji, has called for forgiveness from the bottom of the heart and true reconciliation to bring the crisis in the Catholic diocese of Ahiara to an end. According to the Bishop: “ … every authentic healing and renewal begins with reconciliation with God, who gives peace to our souls. We all need interior peace and renewal”.

Bishop Ugorji made this call in his Pastoral Statement and homily to the faithful of Ahiara Diocese during his first official visit to the diocese, at which he was received with dancing and celebrated the Holy Mass with the Priests and faithful of the diocese during the visit.

Using several passages in the Bible and other documents of the Church to buttress his point, Bishop Ugorji in the statement titled: A New Springtime in Ahiara Diocese; went down memory lane on the advent and growth of the Catholic faith in Mbaise land from the time of inception by the Spiritan missionaries to the 22 years administration of the first Bishop of the diocese, late Most Rev. Victor Chikwe. Bishop Ugorji while appreciating the dedication of the missionaries and early fathers of the Church in the land noted the steadfastness of the people of Mbaise land in the Catholic faith.

He however regretted that appointing a successor to the late Bishop Chikwe degenerated to a crisis of about six years which shook the foundation of the Church in Mbaise land to its very foundation. His words: “it is unfortunate that the process of appointing his successor snowballed into a very destructive crisis that seems to eclipse the noteworthy progress and achievements of the Church of Ahiara Diocese over the years. This horrible crisis has shaken the Church in Ahiara Diocese to its very foundation like an earthquake, inflicted deep wounds of division in the local Church and in the Igbo land and badly damaged the image of the Church in Nigeria and beyond”

He continued: “Intra-ethnic and clannish cleavages that underpinned the crisis have left their ugly marks on the face of the Church. The noble institution of the Catholic priesthood, known and respected for discipline, has been discredited and ridiculed by some unseemly behavior and utterances of the clergy. The sacred pulpit, where the holy Word of God should be proclaimed in its purity and entirety, has been profaned in some parishes and misused for the dissemination of falsehood, distortions and half-truths by people meant to be God’s oracles (cf. 1Pet4:11).

Pointing out that, the situation presently on ground with the resignation of Most Rev. Peter Okpaleke as the Bishop of the diocese and his appointment as the new Apostolic Administrator does not connote a victor of vanquished but rather provides and opportunity for all stakeholders to embrace forgiveness of the heart and true reconciliation for Mbaise land regain her forefront in the Catholic faith and the people to return to fold fold of the one Catholic, Apostolic and Universal Catholic Church.

Calling for a new dawn of love, forgiveness, sincere reconciliation, respect for authority and sustenance of the integrity of the Catholic Church, the Apostolic Administrator outlined the guidelines required for the realization of total reconciliation, joy and harmony. He thanked the Holy Father for opportunity given him to serve the Church in his new capacity in Ahiara Diocese, commended Bishop Peter Okpaleke for his magnanimity and sacrifice for the church of Ahiara and her faithful and thanked the priests and the faithful for the cordial reception accorded him and called for all hands to be on deck to put the past behind, heal wounds, reconcile and put the Church in Ahiara in tis proper stead.

The new Apostolic Administrator concluded: “Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, may God deepen this new communion and friendship among the clergy, religious and lay faithful of Ahiara Diocese and bless it with rich and abiding fruits. May the Church in Ahiara Diocese experience a new Pentecost, a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit! May the clergy, religious and lay faithful of this Diocese be renewed, strengthened and guided by this Spirit of love, unity and peace!”


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