- Sep 21, 2020
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, president of the Nigerian bishops’ conference, is urging priests in his country’s Ahaira diocese to accept a bishop appointed by Benedict XVI and confirmed by Francis, even though he comes from outside the diocese’s majority ethnic and linguistic group. While some priests say they’re ready to comply with whatever the pope decides, that doesn’t mean the underlying grievances are resolved.
Last June, Pope Francis threatened the priests of the Ahiara diocese in Nigeria with suspension unless they wrote a letter addressed to him, apologizing for refusing to accept their bishop, appointed by Benedict XVI in 2012. Days after the deadline, letters from Rome responding to each priest individually began to arrive in the diocese.
Pope Francis’s recent demand for all the priests of a Nigerian diocese to write him pledging loyalty, including accepting the bishop he’s confirmed, may seem to come out of left field, but in fact it builds on a similar request made by the Vatican in 2014 and rejected at the time by the dissident priests.
Following a dramatic show of papal authority in Nigeria, with Pope Francis demanding that all the priests of a diocese write him a letter pledging their loyalty and promising to accept the bishop the pope has appointed, the matter seems far from resolved. Some priests seem willing to go along, while others are submitting a half-apology, and others are even calling for the pope’s resignation.
After Pope Francis issued a dramatic demand for submission from priests in the Nigerian diocese of Ahiara, insisting they all write to pledge loyalty and to indicate a willingness to accept a bishop appointed in 2012 who’s never been able to take control, an online campaign is attempting to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the pope’s edict.