The Catholic diocese of Enugu has barred all clergy and the faithful from attending any religious activity at the Adoration Ministries, Enugu, Nigeria (AMEN).
Ejike Mbaka, spiritual director of AMEN, had sparked controversy early this week when he described Peter Obi, presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), as “stingy”, asking his followers not to vote for him in the 2023 presidential election.
Mbaka’s comment had sparked widespread criticism from Nigerians and the Enugu Catholic diocese.
The diocese had said Mbaka’s comments were a “clear violation” of the provisions of the canon law “which forbids priests from engaging in partisan politics”.
But Mbaka apologised and asked for forgiveness from Obi’s supporters, saying he was misunderstood.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Callistus Onaga, bishop of the diocese, asked all “clergy, religious and lay faithful” to desist from attending “all religious and liturgical activities” of AMEN “until the due canonical process initiated by the Diocese is concluded”.
The bishop added that Mbaka has “persistently” violated the teachings of the Catholic church.
The statement read: “In the light of the happenings in the Catholic Adoration Ministry Chaplaincy Enugu capable of undermining the Catholic faith and teachings; and after several fraternal corrections and admonitions to Fr. Camillus Ejike Mbaka, the Chaplain of the Ministry Chaplaincy, which he persistently violated; and in the fulfilment of my pastoral duties as the Chief Shepherd with the obligation to promote and safeguard the Catholic faith and morals in Enugu Diocese, I hereby prohibit all Catholics (clergy, religious and lay faithful) henceforth from attending all religious and liturgical activities of the Catholic Adoration Ministry until the due canonical process initiated by the Diocese is concluded.
“My decision is based on the fact that some of the teachings and utterances of Fr. Camillus Ejike Mbaka at the Catholic Adoration Ministry are not consistent with the teachings and faith of the Catholic Church.”
“I enjoin all the Christian faithful to keep praying for Fr. Mbaka and the Catholic Diocese of Enugu as I entrust him and the Diocese to the maternal care and protection of the blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles.”
Bishop Onaga enjoined “all Christian faithful to keep praying for Fr. Mbaka.”
The Diocesan authority had last year, after placing his activities on hold for a month, also converted the adoration ministry to chaplaincy. He was then asked to keep off politics.
But he quickly maintained that no one could stop him from speaking.
“Those who think Mbaka will be quiet, you are wasting your time”, he had said last year in reaction to the ban placed on him from commenting on political activities.