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Bishop named for troubled Nigerian diocese

May 03, 2024

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CWN Editor's Note: Pope Francis has named Bishop Simeon Nwobi, CMF—since October the auxiliary of the apostolic administrator of Ahiara—as the new bishop of the troubled Nigerian diocese.

Founded in 1987 and located in the Mbaise region of Imo State in southern Nigeria, the diocese was governed by Bishop Victor Chikwe from its inception until his death in 2010.

In December 2012, Pope Benedict appointed Father Peter Okpaleke, a priest of the Diocese of Awka in neighboring Anambra State, as the diocese’s new bishop. 400 priests, angered that a Mbaise priest was not appointed, protested the decision.

Father Okpaleke was ordained bishop of Ahiara in 2013, but the ordination took place at a seminary in another diocese amid heavy security. He was unable to carry out his episcopal ministry, even after Pope Francis warned of the suspension of priests who resisted the new bishop.

Okpaleke resigned in 2018, and since that time, the see has been vacant. In 2020, Pope Francis named Okpaleke the bishop of a different diocese (Ekwulobia, in Anambra State), and in 2022, the Pontiff named Okpaleke to the College of Cardinals.

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