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POPE WARNS LAITY AGAINST LOBBYING FOR BISHOPS' APPOINTMENT

By NBF News
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POPE Benedict XVI has warned Catholic faithful to stop requesting specific persons for appointment as bishops in their dioceses, insisting that such appointments would only be based on the church's rules.

The Pope, represented by the Papal Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Augustine Kasujja, noted on Sunday during a pontifical mass at Assumpta Catholic Cathedral, Owerri, Imo State that it had become commonplace for members of the church to ask for the appointment of certain priests to either replace dead bishops or be appointed for new dioceses, stressing that the church rule of praying and selection from the lot 'must be applied.'

It was gathered that the warning came following the avalanche of priests angling to replace the late Bishop of Ahiara Diocese, Victor Chikwe.

While commending Archbishop Anthony Obinna of Owerri Ecclesiastic Province for his pioneering zeal of the archdiocese, the papal envoy said: 'An auxiliary bishop is appointed when a diocese is created. Canon law is the procedure in the Catholic Church. It is open and not secret. People write requesting for persons when a diocese is created, but it is not the process. The process is as explained. Prayers take place for replacement. They are not political leaders. Their appointment is different. There are also laws of the church which must be followed.'

The Archbishop of Owerri Catholic Province, Dr. Anthony Obinna, thanked Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State for providing police security for the Pope's representative in the country from Thursday to Sunday (Press time) among other assistance and concern.

He disclosed that the Nuncio visited Governor Ikedi Ohakim and his ancestral hometown among other areas of interest while in Imo.

The Guardian gathered that the papal Legate was in the state on a visit to the Silver Jubilee of Seat of Wisdom Seminary, Ulakwo, Owerri North among other engagements.