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Pope responding personally to Nigerian priests on acceptance of bishop

July 24, 2017

After demanding that the priests of the Diocese of Ahiara, Nigeria, must write to him accepting their bishop’s authority, Pope Francis had begun responding personally to those priests who complied with his directive.

The Ahiara diocese has been in disarray since December 2012, when Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Peter Okpaleke to head the diocese. A large portion of the diocesan clergy and laity resisted the appointment, making it impossible for the new bishop to exercise his office. In July 2013, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, as the apostolic administrator.

In early June of this year the Pope wrote to the clergy of Ahiara, saying that priests who did not accept the authority of Bishop Okpaleke within 30 days would be suspended from ministry. He ordered priests who had rejected the bishop’s authority to ask for forgiveness.

Pope Francis is now responding to the priests who wrote to him, the Crux news site reports. However, the priests who have received the Pontiff’s letter have not divulged their contents—except to reveal that they have been addressed personally.


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  • Posted by: Gil125 - Jul. 24, 2017 1:33 PM ET USA

    The priests should regard themselves as especially favored. He refused to respond to four cardinals who inquired about Amoris.