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Fr E-Dey Work violates no Catholic doctrine, group tells Archbishop

E-Dey Work


By Chekwas Eke

The public warning from the Archbishop of Onitsha Catholic Archdiocese, Most Rev Valerian Okeke against the activities and teachings of Rev Fr Magnus Ebere, a priest of a religious congregation called Society of Divine Vocation (SDV) within the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Onitsha has been an issue of public debate.

In a letter circulated in the social media signed by the Archbishop himself, Rev Fr Ebere popularly known as E-Dey Work was accused of running a ministry within the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese in Nnobi town without the ecclesiastical authority and requisite faculties.

The letter further stated that Rev Fr Ebere who belongs to the SDV was not a priest of the Archdiocese and had no faculties or rights to operate within the Archdiocese of Onitsha.

Another point raised by Archbishop Okeke was that recently, a Catholic priest working in the Archdiocese of Lagos was given a leave of absence due to his unjustified outburst and unfounded accusation that the Igbo want to dominate others wherever they are.

The Archbishop said Rev Fr Ebere while reacting to the video of the Lagos incident during one his activities at Nnobi worsened and aggravated the matter by ignorantly confirming the accusation the suspended priest levelled against the Igbo.

After several attempts  to get the reaction of  Rev Fr Ebere on the raging issues failed, a group that identified itself as Concerned Canon Lawyers sent in an analysis of the matter which was made available to the media. 

According to the group, in the Catholic Church, the problem resulting from the rights and duties of the Diocese  and religious communities are very sensitive. 

The lawyers said that the (CIC) 1983 code is the norms of action grading both the Dioceses and religious institutes to assign religious priests and other consecrated persons on places of pastoral assignments.

Every religious institute, the lawyers said, has a constitution guiding it. They insisted that rights and obligations of Christ faithful, as a follow-up, in canon 215 'Christ faithful may freely establish and direct associations which serve charitable or pious purposes or which foster the Christian vocation in the world, and they may hold meetings to pursue those purpose by common effort.' 

"The Canaanland Counseling Center has been duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Nigeria. Therefore, Christ's faithful act according to the provision of the 1983 code.

"As acknowledged by the Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev Valerian Okeke, Rev Fr Magnus Ebere SDV is a Catholic priest of the Society of Divine Vocation of Pontifical rights. He is not a clandestine priest. Fr Magnus Ebere teaches in the name of the church.

"Recently, the Archbishop of Lagos suspended her priest because of his utterance concerning the Igbo dominance. Reacting to the alleged utterance of the priest, on February 9, 2022, Rev Fr Magnus SDV during his Wednesday counseling programme in Umuoma, Onicha, Ezinihitte Mbaise, Imo State maintained that the church is universal and the Igbo are part of the universality of the church.

" The phrase 'the Igbo are dominating' which Fr Magnus was reacting to was misinterpreted by the Archbishop in the letter he published warning Rev Fr Magnus Ebere SDV publicly to refrain from referring to a trashed issue concerning the Archdiocese of Lagos.

" The letter reads in part: 'Fr Magnus Ebere is a psychotic priest. The Catholic Church is not a tribal institution, his teachings are dangerous, deceitful and inimical to Catholic faith.', 

"Rev Fr Magnus Ebere's reaction was outside the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Onitsha. It was in his counseling center in Umuoma Onicha Mbaise, Imo State. He was falsely accused to have made utterances at Nnobi, Anambra State, " the group said.

The lawyers insisted that Fr Ebere was not psychotic in any way. They said he ministered to the multitude of the faithful both in Nigeria and abroad in a sane mind.

"With reference to canons 757, 758 and 762 Fr Ebere's life and teachings do not contradict the Catholic doctrine including canon 751. He was falsely accused without thorough investigation to ascertain the truth of the allegations.

"Fr Ebere's rights must be respected as provided in canon 220.  No one may unlawfully harm the good reputation which a person enjoys, or violate the right of every person  to protect his or her right to privacy, " the group further said.

The lawyers were not happy that the Archbishop of Onitsha Archdiocese did not officially write to the Delegate Superior of the Vocationalist Fathers in Nigeria in matters relating to their priest and that the Archbishop did not issue a canonical warning to Rev Fr Magnus Ebere SDV as required by law before going public.

The lawyers said that Rev Fr Magnus Ebere has the right to good name, right of association, right of ownership and right of establishment and freedom of expression.

Despite failed efforts to have Rev Fr Magnus Ebere to speak on the issues at stake, a visit to the counseling center at Nnobi yielded fruits.

Many of the top members of the counseling center volunteered to speak even though they did not want their names to be in print.

One of them confirmed that the counseling center was registered with the CAC as the Canaanland Counseling Center, a subsidiary of Moria Counseling Center, Nnobi, Anambra State and not Canaanland Adoration Ministry as alleged.

The source said that the priest, Fr Ebere, to the best of his knowledge, was not called to explain anything to Archbishop Okeke or any due process followed before writing him the letter that went viral in the social media.

The source who said he is a core Catholic said: "Fr Ebere has humbly resolved not to perform any duty that requires the faculty of the Archbishop in that center because of the current development.

"With this humble resolution of the priest, the bone of contention has been resolved. A lot of changes are taking place at the center because of the misunderstanding.

"From what we heard, the center is a psychological counseling center which is non-denominational. People from all faith come here and most of them show acute interest in Catholicism. 

Another top source from the Counseling Center said that Fr Ebere as one of the Directors of the center for psychological services has influenced a lot of the members to imbibe Catholic faith.

He said: " If not for the gross misunderstanding by Archbishop Valerian Okeke, Rev Fr Magnus Ebere should be applauded by the Catholic hierarchies because he is using his position as one of the directors of the center to propagate  the Catholic faith.

"It's unfortunate that no canonical warning was given to him before the letter went to the social media."

Some people we met at the counseling centre said they stood by Fr. Ebere. They affirmed that his series of teachings had restored hope to the hopeless, restored human dignity, revamped the mindset of people to become solution providers and made a lot of people to turn from their evil ways. 

They said that the letter of the Archbishop to Rev. Fr. Dr. Magnus Ebere SDV was uncalled for and a calculated attempt to tarnish the good image of the priest.

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