The clock is ticking fast for the clergy in the Nigerian diocese of Ahiara, as the deadline to respond to the Pope’s ultimatum is just 17 days away.
On June 8th, the Pope issued an unprecedented threat, giving the priests of that diocese thirties days to write him a letter promising total obedience or face suspension, after several priests there rejected their Vatican appointed bishop, Bishop Peter Okpaleke, who was appointed five years ago, simply because he doesn’t belong to their majority based Mbaise ethnic group.
Yet despite this papal directive, clerics are still revolting against their bishop and Pope, and have now called for the pontiff to resign, arguing, that the scandal surrounding the appointment has created divisions in parishes, hatred, and grief among the Catholic community.
According to some of the local faithful, the response by the diocese to the Bishop's appointment in 2012, was originally jubilant but the mood changed, when certain priests lobbied hard and convinced other priests of their cause, to have a local Mbaise priest appointed as bishop instead. Since then, Bishop Okpaleke has not been able to fulfill his duties as a bishop and has been in a state of limbo.
Now fourteen days into the Papal ultimatum, it is still unclear how many of the 130 priests in the diocese are going to comply with the Pope’s request but one thing is for certain: a great division is growing between the many faithful supporting the Papal appointment, and those now calling for the Pope’s resignation. I will keep you up to date as the story unfolds.
The Vatican press office confirmed this week, that the Pope will return to South America in January to visit Chile and Peru. Accepting the invitation from the countries Heads of State and local Bishops, the Pope will make an Apostolic journey to Chile on January 15th to the 18th, then to Peru from the 18th to the 21st.
At the moment, there hasn’t been any mention of a possible stop-over trip to the Pope's homeland of Argentina, which he hasn’t been back since he was elected pope in March 2013. This trip to Peru & Chile will be his 4th to South America. Of course, I’ll bring you more details on this trip when details become available
One of the big highlights of the 2017 Catholic Press Association’s Media Conference in Quebec City was the talk given by Oscar award winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese.
Scorsese spoke yesterday with Catholic media professionals, after they were treated to a screening presentation of his most recent film Silence, which is about the persecution of Christians and Jesuit missionaries in 17th-century Japan.
Scorsese told the audience that when a studio executive asked him why he wanted to make the film so badly, he blurted out: "To get to know Jesus better". "That was the answer that came to mind and I didn't know what else to say", he said. If one affirms that Jesus is fully divine and fully human, Scorsese said, people should be able to look at his humanity.
Later that evening, the filmmaker was presented with a lifetime achievement award for excellence in film making.
And now, to wrap up our coverage of the 2017 Catholic Press Association’s Media Conference and the Signis World Conference, Francis Denis talks to Fr. Tom Rosica about his impressions of the past week’s events.
That's all we have time for today. Join us again on Monday when I bring you more news and stories from a Perspectives of a Catholic lens.
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