HomeReligiousOPEN LETTER TO THE CATHOLIC BISHOP OF ABAKALIKI DIOCESE, RT REV DR...

OPEN LETTER TO THE CATHOLIC BISHOP OF ABAKALIKI DIOCESE, RT REV DR PETER CHUKWU

RE:PUBLICATION OF FORBIDDEN TRUTH AND SUSPENSION OF REV FR DR JOHN O ODEY

We use this medium to congratulate you on your nomination and subsequent ordination and elevation as the substantive Catholic Bishop of Abakalik Diocese after so many years of waiting. We wish you a successful tenure in office.

We are forced to write this open letter to you because of the events that surround the publication, public presentation and the aftermath of the book – The Forbidden Truth and Clouds of Witness – How Fr. Obuna Ruled and Crippled Abakaliki Diocese, by Fr. John Odey. We are concerned that without even settling down in your new office, you have to be confronted with the challenge posed by this issue that has lingered for years. But that is the challenge of your new position.

Our Lord, we were shocked to hear that you suspended Fr. Odey from his priestly office barely 4 days after the book launch. This shock stems from the fact that as we were told, Fr. Odey approached you and sought your consent to present and launch his book. We learnt also that you gave the approval. This much was made known by the Chairman of the book launch planning committee, Prof Clement Okonkwo, in the course of his remarks at the book launch. In his words ” the Bishop told Fr. Odey, go ahead and publish the book, let the world know the truth”. He went further to add that “anyone who bought the book would go with the Bishop’s blessings”

Our Lord, why less than a week after the book launch the same you who gave your blessings to the publication with the prompting that Fr. Odey should go ahead and tell the world the truth, turned around and slammed him
with suspension from his priestly duties for authoring and making the book public. It’s either that you never approved of the book and Prof Okonkwo lied to the audience or that you actually did and still turned around to punish Fr. Odey, in which case you are a hypocrite.

If the later is true, don’t you think you are equally guilty of the offence of Fr. Odey since he sought your permission to publish the book and you granted it. Are you now punishing him because he disobeyed you or what? Can your conscience tell you that you are right by suspending him after encouraging him to tell the world the truth? Did you read the work and discover that he didn’t tell the world the truth? Or you intentionally wanted to ridicule him? We suspect that you were stampeded into taking this unwarranted and hasty action. Did you tell whoever made you take this action that you approved of the book? We are disappointed by your double-standard and hasty action devoid of due process.

We had expected that your wealth of knowledge and experience about the diocese and the fact that it was facing the brinks after so many years of turbulent and harrowing Bishop Okoro administration, would have guided and guarded you to pull the diocese back from the brinks. But this singular action has watered down our confidence in your ability to take decisions in the best interest of the diocese. What one would have expected of you was to set up a commission to look into the remote and immediate causes of the publication of the book. The report of such commission would now decide what the next line of action would be. If Fr. Odey is to receive punishment, the report will say so and give reasons why he should be punished. If the content of the book is all lies, the report will tell the public so. Punishing him without setting up a commission and exhausting the process of fair-hearing leads only to more suspicion in the minds of the people. It smacks of your pandering to the whims of those the book accused of crippling the Church and it goes to show that they are still in charge.

Remember Our Lord, that the book is not against the Church but against wrong authorities in the Church. That Bishop Okoro and Fr. Obuna ruled and crippled Abakaliki Diocese for about 3 decades is not news. In a bit to perpetuate himself as a life Bishop of Abakaliki Diocese, Okoro refused to birth an auxillary bishop to succeed him, neither was he able to create more diocese from Abakaliki Diocese. In Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, Ebonyi is the only state with one diocese. Enugu and Anambra have 3 each. Bishop Okoro has refused to vacate Bishop’s House, Mile 50 Abakaliki for you to occupy as the substantive bishop. You are now petching at St. Mulumba’s Parish Azuiyiokwu as a tenant. Till now he has not handed over to you after 6 years of official retirement. Our Lord, are these lies? These and much we know about Bishop Okoro without Fr. Odey telling us.

We are led to believe given the foregone that something is wrong somewhere, like Fr. Odey would always say.

Recall that in our earlier write-up captioned ” Nothing Must Happen to Fr. John Odey” we held as follows:
“With every sense of commitment and responsibility, we wish to inform all the Catholics in Nigeria that Bishop Michael Nnachi Okoro and Fr. Dr. Emmanuel Obuna must be called to order to avert a repetition of what happened in the Catholic Diocese of Ahiara.

The underlying lesson in the crisis that engulfed the Catholic Diocese of Ahiara is the ability of the Laity Council to take a stand when it mattered most. It was not about Bishop Peter Okpaleke. Rather it is about how the Church mishandled the issue using very shrewd managerial approach that lacked contemporary touch.

The pilgrim Church as the Body of Christ is composed of members of the ministerial priesthood and the priesthood of the faithful. These two entities work harmoniously for the propagation of the salvific and redemptive message of Christ; without any of them feeling more important than the other.

The era in which the Church dishes out orders and encyclical without holding extensive discussion with the laity is gone. Pope John XXIII admonished the Church to open the widows of Vatican so that fresh air may come in. The Church in Abakaliki Diocese must hearken to this advice or risk implosion”

Some of us have never come into contact with Fr. John Odey. But we are impressed by his courage and audacity to confront evil; to speak truth to power whether ecclesiastical or secular.

We have equally taken a closer look at his lifestyle as a priest and it’s edifying to note that though he is not a saint, he is one of the few priests in Abakaliki Diocese who tries to imitate Christ. The much we know about him reveals that he is not caught up with the blind acquisition of mundane things; he lives a life of self-sacrifice and above all he lives by what he preaches. This much cannot be said of many other priests in this Diocese.

Our Lord, if there are any of the priestly vows Fr. Odey is not meeting up with, including vows of chastity, obedience and poverty, please let us know and we will not have any qualms in your disciplining him for breaking his vows.

Regrettably we know a lot of priests who have thrown their priestly vows overboard and are daily scandalising the faithfuls thereby bringing Christ and his church to scorn. Unfortunately the Church authorities have never brought out it’s whip to chastise them. Rather many are treated as good boys and untouchables.

Tell us the crime of Fr. Odey that makes him unfit for the priesthood but if his only sin is that he can’t afford to keep quite when things are going wrong, then let him be.

In view of the foregone, we demand as follows

  1. That the priestly faculties of Rev. Fr. Dr. John Okwoeze Odey be restored within 72 hours of the receipt of this letter.
  2. That a commission be properly instituted to look into all the issues that gave rise to the publication of the book “The Forbidden Truth and Clouds of Witness” and
    the book itself with a view to resolving all the issues and ensure that justice is done to all parties.
  3. Those who are not comfortable with the book should come up with a refutal or otherwise hold their peace, as we shall resist any effort to bring Fr. Odey to redicule or even ruin.

If these demands are not immediately met, we shall take the following actions:

  1. Stop every other priest in the diocese from officiating Sunday masses and consign them to private masses as Fr. Odey is consigned to.
  2. Open the pandora boxes on the clergy of Abakaliki Diocese by chronicling and exposing one after the other the many scandals, crimes and abominable acts of the priests of the Diocese including but not limited to abortion, sleeping with married women, married-but-single priests, illegal child-bearing, ownership of choice properties, murder, rape, gay-practices Pedophilia, child molestation.etc, starting with Emiretus Bishop Michael Okoro and Fr. Obuna.

At the end we will know between Fr. Odey and the priests we shall expose here who merits suspension.

Let us make hay while the sun shines. Enough is enough.

Concerned Catholics
Diocese of Abakaliki

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