No fewer than eight parish priests have so far been suspended by the Bishop of Awgu Catholic Diocese in Enugu State, Most Rev. Dr. John Ifeanyichukwu Okoye.
They were thrown out of their parishes for several years now for alleged offences.
The priests are Rev Fr. James Ani, Rev. Fr. Mathias Nnaemeka Udonu, Rev. Fr. Sam Paul Onyekpa, Rev Fr. Clement-Mary Ilechukwu, Fr. Orjene Leonard, Rev. Fr. Hyginus Anaehe and Rev. Fr, Kenneth Uke, who allegedly died due to abandonment and frustration.
Due to their suspension, the priests have been reportedly going about begging for money, food and shelter to survive.
However, the priests who called on Pope Francis and leaders of the catholic communion in Nigeria to intervene, alleged abuse of power, intimidation, their treatment as slaves and human rights violation.
They were said to have visited the Bishop on several occasions to beg for forgiveness but to no avail.
Also, catholic priests from Awgu, Awka, Enugu and outside the country had pleaded for justice and mercy as well as urging the restoration of the suspended clerics without success.
Also, a cross section of the catholic faithful at Awgu are of the opinion that no matter the offence they committed, they are supposed to be pardoned, especially as the priests had pleaded for leniency.
During the year of Mercy, Pope Francis had asked everyone to forgive whatever offence anyone must have committed.
Efforts to get the bishop’s reaction failed as he did not pick calls.