The Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese in Anambra State, The Most Reverend Jonas Benson Okoye, has relieved five priests of the diocese from their duties for alleged insubordination
The five priests of St Martin of Tours, Ihiala, are said to have had an ongoing battle with the bishop over their residence in the parish.
Tribune Online has collected that the bishop expelled the priests from the presbytery of the church following an administrative reorganization aimed at creating a new parish in the area
Priests who allegedly claimed their order had been in possession of the parish for over 100 years, refused the bishop’s order to free the parish for new priests sent to the church.
As a result, the bishop had to withdraw their canonical faculties (authorities to perform acts or function in the parish)
A former director of communications for the Diocese of Nnewi, Rev. Fr. Hyginus Aghaulo, revealed the development to reporters in Ozubulu, in the Ekwusigo local government area of the state on Tuesday.
He said: “The Spiritans claim that Archbishop Heerey gave them (the parish) in 1967. It was under the 1917 code, but canon 6 of the 1983 code repealed the 1917 code unless these questions were repeated in the 1983 code, but there is no evidence that this happened.
!Third, the 1983 Code abolished making a legal person a pastor. But to be appointed pastor, the person must be a natural person and be in the priesthood.
“Even if a parish is given to a juridical person even in soliduum, the diocesan bishop must appoint one of them as parish priest. Fourth, under the 1917 Code, when this grant was instituted, there was an express need for an apostolic indult to have the character of perpetuity.
“The 1983 Code gives discretion and the right of free attribution to diocesan bishops and their equivalents in law in accordance with canons 368 and 381, in the spiritual task of appointing pastors.
“Thus, the diocesan can appoint freely and dismiss freely. He can freely create and freely suppress parishes without resorting to existing customs, donations and legacies and centenary or immemorial donations.
Aghaulo held that religious institutes by virtue of their legal personality were not distinctly and naturally destined for parochial administration but for the life of the evangelical counsel in their communities and convents, unlike diocesan or secular priests whose destiny and nativity were to administer the parishes.
He said in the Ihiala case: “Bishop Jonas Benson Okoye is the successor to Bishop Heerey and therefore has the power to interpret or modify the perpetuity clause in such a convention because “the salvation of souls is the supreme law .
Aghaulo revealed that the development had been reported to the Superior General whose duty it is to oversee the priests.