The Catholic Church in Nigeria has reacted to the public outcry generated by the recent transfer of the Spiritual Director of Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka, saying the controversial priest was merely being sent to where he would be more useful to his ministry and the church.
Mbaka had on Saturday officially handed over Christ the King Parish, GRA, Enugu, where he was Parish Priest for 20 years to his successor, Rev. Fr. Theodore Ozoamalu.
While informing his followers that he will suffer in his new place of assignment, he lamented that he is been sent from a duplex to a room in Our Lady Parish, Emene, where he is to serve as resident priest, under another priest.
The church, which had earlier clarified that the posting was not meant to be punitive, said on Monday that the transfer of priests within the Catholic Church is a “normal church procedure.”
Secretary-General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Reverend Father Ralph Madu said that “Mbaka’s own is not an exception,” stressing that “The Bishop has the right to post any priest wherever he feels his service would be more useful to the church.”
It was rumoured that the fiery priest who predicted the victory of Candidate Muhammadu Buhari over Goodluck Jonathan in the March 2015 election was being transferred to another parish as punishment for his unalloyed support of a Muslim candidate taking over the leadership of the country from a Christian President.
But while dismissing this perception, Madu asserted that “such frivolities have nothing to do with the posting.
“His (Mbaka’s) posting should have been a privilege, not a punishment – which the Bishop can do because he has the power.”
“If he says it’s a punishment, then it’s open for further investigation. Posting is a regular thing, a priest can be transferred after two, three, four, or more years; it depends on the discretion of the Bishop.”
“That ministry (Adoration Ministry) is his private ministry; it does not belong to the church. Overseeing a parish is a full time job. Overseeing a ministry is a bigger task. If the church decides to take him somewhere where he’ll have more time to carry out his ministry, how is it punitive? That should not be the language.”
While declaring that Mbaka had done things that were unacceptable to the church in the past but received no punishments for them, Madu said: “He is supposed to be a missionary.”
“What if the Bishop had closed down the ministry, which is within his power to do? Sometimes, transfers can be for the good of the priest as something can be going wrong which he might not be aware of. The Bishop is free to move any priest at any time, it is his prerogative.”