‘The Nnewi Catholic diocese has grown with four hundred and thirteen priests which demands that new parishes be created’
The former Chancellor of Nnewi catholic diocese, Rev Fr Hyginus Aghaulor said none of the priests in the diocese has been sacked.
Fr Aghaulor who was was recently deployed as Episcopal Vicar, Ozubulu Region and Parish Priest of St Michael Catholic Church Ozubulu in Ekwusigo LGA of Anambra State said that what actually happened was the deployment of five Holy Spiritan priests.
The Episcopal Vicar of Ozubulu region who was also the former diocesan Director of Communications said it is a normal development for priests to be deployed and redeployed in the Catholic Church. He said it is an act of insubordination for a priest to refuse the order of the bishop.
“What was mistaken for sack is that the Bishop of Nnewi Catholic Diocese in Anambra State, Bishop Jonas Benson Okoye withdrew the faculty of five Spiritans priests, otherwise called Holy Ghost Priests for their failure to obey instructions. Withdrawal of faculty meant the priests will not be able to perform any duties within the diocese, and even when they do, such functions would be considered illicit.
“If they baptize someone, conduct a wedding, the wedding and baptism is illegal. They can not even celebrate mass because their faculty has been withdrawn by the bishop. The priests were not sacked, as been insinuated but they were merely re-deployed. In Canon Law, which the church operates, the Bishop has the powers to redeploy priests and that was what he did.” Fr Aghaulor noted.
He however pointed out that the Spiritans have been frustrating the efforts of the bishop to create a new parish in Ihiala noting that the Nnewi catholic diocese has grown with four hundred and thirteen priests which according to him demands that new parishes be created.
“The bishop created a new parish and deployed some of our priests there and transferred the Spiritans to the Juniorate but they refused to leave, trying to frustrate the genuine efforts of the bishop.
“The Spiritans claim that Archbishop Heerey gave the parish to them in 1967. That was under 1917 Code but canon 6 of 1983 Code abrogated 1917 Code unless such matters are renewed in 1983 Code but there is no evidence that such happened.1983 Code abolished making a moral person now juridic person a pastor. Now to be appointed a pastor, the person must be a physical person and be in priesthood.” He asserted.
The former Chancellor pointed out that the issue of sack of priests does not arise at all as the bishop who is in control of the diocese decided to give them new responsibilities.
Fr Aghaulor also noted that apart from being disobedient to the bishop, the holy ghost fathers have been frustrating the genuine efforts of the bishop to amicably resolve issues with the owners of the land upon which the church is situated by not fulfilling their own obligations.
The former Chancellor however insisted that the issue of the Spritan priests has not in anyway affected the spiritual well being of parishioners.