Forgive Ahiara Diocese, Catholic Bishops, Soludo Begs Cardinal Okpalaeke.

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Catholic bishops in Nigeria have appealed to newly created Peter Cardinal Okpalaeke, to forgive the Diocese of Ahiara in Imo State for rejecting him as their bishop.

Okpalaeke, was announced Bishop of the Imo diocese by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, but was rejected by the laity council and priests of Ahiara Mbaise because he was not an indigene.

In 2020, Ekwulobia was carved out of Awka Diocese in Anambra State and Okpalaeke was installed its bishop.

Okpalaeke was elevated to the rank of Cardinal by Pope Francis on May 29, and alongside 20 other bishops across the globe, received the red hat at the Consistory in Vatican City, Rome on August 27.

At a thanksgiving Mass held at St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Ekwulobia, Archbishop Augustine Akabueze, who spoke on behalf of other Catholic bishops, reminded the new Cardinal that his elevation was a call to additional service in the Lord’s vineyard.

“I implore God to bless you. Always say no to retaliation and exhibit a positive and forgiving attitude in this your new assignment. I thank the Governor of Anambra State. May all your plans for Anambra State find fulfilment in God’s name,” Akabueze said.

Anambra Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, also joined the bishops to beg the Cardinal to forgive Ahiara Diocese. He described the Cardinal as the rejected stone that later became the chief cornerstone.

His appeal for forgiveness contained in a statement by the governor’s Press Secretary, Christian Aburime, who quoted Soludo as further expressing the optimism that Okpalaeke’s elevation would bring blessings to the country.

“Two cardinals in Africa and one of them from Nigeria; there must be something spiritual about it. I pray that this creation will become a point of contact that something new will happen in Nigeria- the new ideas and courage to know the right thing to be done in Nigeria, South East, and Anambra State,” he said.

Okpalaeke said Ahiara Diocese remained dear to him as he was the second substantive Bishop of the diocese. He also thanked God that the church was still alive.

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