Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos state, Olubunmi Cardinal Okogie had addressed the controversial statement made by popular Enugu-based Catholic priest and founder of Adoration Ministry, Ejike Mbaka.
Cardinal Okogie expressed his displeasure over Rev. Fr. Mbaka's New Year's eve speech which has generated lots of controversy, stating that the priest must have been under the influence of another spirit not God's own.
He added that only the bishop of Enugu has the power to discipline the popular priest since he falls under the diocese but left to the Cardinal, Mbaka's adoration ministry would have been closed long ago.
Read excerpts from the interview:
How do you see the statement credited to Rev. Father Ejike Mbaka?
Any serious priest will not speak the way he spoke. I am not saying that he is not serious. I will not agree with the things he said. According to what I read in the newspapers, a few weeks earlier, the First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, visited his Adoration Ground in Enugu and he prayed for her. At that occasion, he was said to have lambasted the opposition party, APC, and now to turn around overnight and start lambasting President Goodluck Jonathan shows that there is something wrong somewhere.
Personally, I felt bad because it is not the place of a priest to go to that extent. He can have his personal opinion, but to go to the extent that he went is abnormal. I want you to know that he wasn’t speaking for the church. He said he was moved by the spirit, and I wonder what kind of spirit was that.
He said he was under the inspiration of the spirit. If he was under the inspiration of the spirit, I wonder if the spirit is that of God. I don’t think the spirit he’s referring to is the spirit of God. He must have been under the influence of another spirit. He must have been listening to a wrong spirit.
Is the statement not embarrassing to the Catholic Church as a whole?
Indeed, it is. But I must say to you that he was not speaking on behalf of the church. No! No!! No!!! Anybody with such opinion is in error. The man cannot hold brief for the church. Pardon me, but how can I say you are bloody fool and anybody takes that to mean that all journalists are bloody fools. It’s very funny.
In a situation such as this, what does the Catholic Church do?
Well, the Catholic Church is structured in such a way that there are dioceses where each priest belongs. This particular priest happens to come from Enugu Diocese, so it is left for the bishop in charge of that diocese to discipline him. If the priest fails to obey the discipline, then the bishop is obligated to report the mother to the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN.
You may have heard the Bishop of Abuja Diocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, who said that if the priest were to be in his diocese, he would discipline him straight. But he is not in his diocese. The best anyone of us can do is just to advise him that he had gone too far and he is free to take our advice and he may not. God gave every one of us a free will and we are at liberty to use the freewill as we choose.
What kind of sanction can be given to such a priest?
It depends on his bishop. You cannot dictate for his bishop. Don’t forget that this same man was at loggerheads with a former governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamanni, and it was the same Adoration Ground in Enugu. If I have my way, we should close that place because a lot of things have been happening there that are out of tune. I think Gov. Peter Obi also went there for prayers at one point. If I have my way, I won’t go there for anything….