Scores of Catholic priests and faithful Thursday staged a peaceful rally to protest against the alleged imposition of Monsignor Peter Okpaleke as the new bishop of Ahiara Diocese of the church in Mbaise, Imo State.
The priests and faithful adorned in black outfits massed along the Owerri-Umuahia Expressway causing major traffic hold-up.
They borne placards with inscriptions which expressed their indignation over Monsignor Okpaleke’s appointment as the new bishop of Ahiara Diocese.
The protesters said they are not against the person of Okpaleke but strongly contest his suitability for Ahiara Diocese given its peculiarities.
While restating their loyalty and obedience to the head of the Catholic Church worldwide, His Holiness, Pope Francis 1, they condemned the insinuation of infighting among priests in the diocese which resulted in the appointment of Okpaleke, a priest from the Awka Diocese to head the Ahiara Diocese.
They challenged anybody who is alleging disunity and infighting among the priests of the Ahiara Diocese to provide evidence to prove it.
They insisted that Okpaleke’s coming would not promote the spiritual well-being of the Catholic faithful in Ahiara Diocese, adding that his apostolate would require a translator thereby throwing the diocese to the difficult days of expatriate missionaries.
The protesters averred that the appointment of Okpaleke contradicts natural justice thereby sending a wrong signal about the status and reputation of the more than 500 catholic priests in the diocese.
One of the priests, Monsignor Don Okoro urged the protesters to remain resolute, pointing out that Ahiara Diocese would resist Okpaleke’s consecration as the new Bishop of Ahiara Diocese with the last pint of their blood.