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Tribal concerns divide Nigerian diocese

Catholic World News - December 23, 2010

At the 2009 Synod of Bishops for Africa, several prelates lamented divisions in the life of the Church caused by tribalism. Cardinal Francis Arinze urged the bishops of each nation to speak as one voice, “without being influenced by tribal considerations,” and exhorted priests to “accept a new bishop appointed by the Holy Father without organizing factions with a ‘son of the soil’ myopic mentality. The success of the Church in appointing bishops outside their language area is a powerful message to some African communities wounded by the politico-social virus of extreme ethnicism.”

This phenomenon appears to be on display in the Archdiocese of Benin City (Nigeria), where a group of laity is demanding that the next archbishop be a member of the Bini tribe. The previous ordinary, Irish-born Archbishop Richard Burke, resigned in May after admitting to an affair with a young woman.

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