Pope names new cleric for S. Leone diocese to end Bishop saga
In an apparent attempt to defuse the feud in the Catholic diocese in northern Sierra Leone, Pope Benedict XVI has appointed an Administrator to run the Diocese of Makeni.
Rev. Father Natalio Pannelli as the Apostolic Administrator is to oversee the diocese as and until a substantive Bishop is installed.
The church split last January, after the appointment of Bishop elect, Father Henry Aruna when some members of the church staged violent protests for several days against his appointment, contesting that Aruna was not a native of Makeni.
The Catholic Archbishop of Freetown, Edward Tamba Charles then frowned on “some people who are bringing the church down the tribal line,” amidst internal feud over the appointment of a Bishop from the east of Sierra Leone to head the diocese of Makeni in the north.
WADR’s Freetown Correspondent Mohamed Konneh reports on the latest twist in the leadership crisis in Sierra Leone’s Catholic church.
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The rift in Sierra Leone’s Catholic Church has raised eyebrows, with many wondering: what example are Priests and other members of the the Church setting for the secular world as regards fanning the flames of tribalism?
“We are waiting for tension to cool down so that we could go and talk to the priest and laity, because appointment of a Bishop is not a thing that is done locally. It goes through a process and eventually the Holy Father (the Pope) sanctions the name of a particular priest,” said Freetown Archbishop Charles in an interview with West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) in January. The Archbishop himself does not hail from the Sierra Leonean capital.
When asked whether disciplinary actions would be taken against rebelling priest, Archbishop Charles did not rule out the possibility of some of them being reprimanded for their action.
“My hope and prayer is that we will not reach that point,” the Catholic cleric warned.