Catholic Priesthood – Between Politics And Obedience To Bishops

At ordination, Catholic priests pledge obedience to the ordaining Bishop and prelate. As a result, whatever height a priest attains, he must respect and be obedient to his Bishop.

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Another side is the firmness of the Catholic Church forbidding or banning ordained priests from active participation in partisan politics. Priests could become popular with the people and his opinion widely respected in the polity; he may express his thoughts and views on national or local issues BUT he must not venture into partisan politics.

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In Nigeria, there was a Catholic priest, late Rev. Fr. Moses Adasu. He broke faith with obedience to his Bishop and went into partisan politics. He picked up membership of a political party, campaigned, contested and got elected into office as governor of Benue State, in Nigeria’s middle belt. Directly he chose the part of politics, the Church withdraw from him the faculty of hearing confession and celebration of the Mass for the public. He could participate but not preside at the Eucharistic celebration.

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In the past few years, another priest Fr. Camillus Ejike Mbaka of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, South East Nigeria has been in the News. He was a member of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and a disciple of late Fr. Stephen Njoku also of Enugu Diocese.

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Fr. Mbaka founded an Adoration ministry in Enugu which has a large following of adherents, some of whom are irate. He has been known to make public pronouncements as prophecies from God. In some of them he vowed to resign from priesthood if his prophecies did not come to pass. Interestingly, some of such prophecies did not come to pass and he did not resign from priesthood as vowed.

In 2014, he mocked former President Jonathan that General Muhammadu Buhari was God’s favorite to win the 2015 election. It did happen. After the election, he was given the red carpet treatment at the State house Abuja by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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It was widely reported that the Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Reverend Callistus Onaga cautioned him over his public utterances on partisan political issues. He went public that he was being persecuted for speaking truth to power.

In 2021, he now called on President Buhari to resign or be impeached as prophecy from God. The Presidency alleged that Mbaka got angry because he led some people to the state house to ask for contract, failing which he resorted to blackmailing the President.

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The Bishop of his Diocese, most Rev. Callistus Onaga now summoned him to a meeting. He went to answer the call only for his adherents to allege that he had been kidnapped. They massed together on the Bishop’s residence and caused extensive damage to property. Not satisfied, they marched to the Holy Ghost Cathedral, Enugu and damaged the altar and other property.

After meeting with the Bishop, Fr. Ejike Mbaka addressed his followers and praised them that but for their outcry and protest, he didn’t know what would have become of him, lending credence to the so-called kidnap allegation.

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