Here’s why senior catholic figures are cautioning Father Mbaka (By Naptu2)
(Please, don’t just react to the title of the thread or to what you think the thread is about or to what you’ve heard before. Try and take some time to actually read the posts and understand what’s written in them. Thank you).
Father Camillus Ejike Mbaka has caused controversy in the past 20 years by hobnobbing with politicians and predicting the winners of governorship and presidential elections. This led to serious controversy in 2018 when he had a verbal altercation with Mr Peter Obi, the vice presidential candidate of the PDP.
Many senior figures in the Catholic Church have often cautioned and criticised Father Mbaka because of his political activities. Here are some examples:
Father Mbaka Saga: ’Mixing Religion With Politics Is Dangerous’ -Cardinal Okogie
I’ll Sanction Mbaka If He’s Under My Diocese, Says Onaiyekan
Adewale Martins: Mbaka May Be Barred From Preaching By Catholic
Some people have claimed that these bishops only criticised Father Mbaka because they support a different candidate from the candidate that Father Mbaka endorsed. Is this really the reason? Of course it’s not. So what’s the reason for their criticisms?
Basically, their criticisms are based on Canon Law. Canon Law is the code that guides the behaviour of priests and other ministers in the Catholic Church all over the world. Canon Law states that:
Can. 283 (3). Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.
Can. 287. (2). They are not to have an active part in political parties and in governing labour unions unless, in the judgment of competent ecclesiastical authority, the protection of the rights of the Church or the promotion of the common good requires it.
These sections have always been interpreted to mean that priests must not tell voters who to vote for. They must not get involved in partisan politics that supports one candidate against another, except with the permission of their bishop.
This does not mean that priests cannot be involved in politics at all. Priests can criticise governments, condemn corruption, advocate that government should help the poor, etc. They can also vote in elections, but they must not tell their congregation to vote for politician Y or to vote against politician X. This is because it is believed that the Catholic Church exists to serve all people, no matter the party you belong to or what race you are and so the church must not be seen to be promoting one group over the other or dividing the congregation. Basically, the Catholic Church is politically neutral.
This is the reason for the criticism of Father Mbaka, because he seems to be supporting one candidate over another and this is against Canon Law.
Due to this, the Catholic Bishops Conference barred all priests from supporting politicians ahead of the 2019 elections (see second post below).
After the altercation between Father Mbaka and Peter Obi, the Church issued another warning to priests and banned them from allowing any politician to use any pulpit, altar or church property to make political statements. (see third post below).
This is a very serious issue around the world. The Catholic Church in America also issued directives to priests ahead of the 2016 election over there (so other posts below) and some Catholics in the US also complained (ahead of the 2012 election) that some priests and bishops were using their pulpits to campaign against Barrack Obama.
This is not the first time that the Catholic Church in Nigeria is facing this kind of challenge, neither is it the most serious case.
President Ibrahim Babangida appointed two Catholic priests to the Constituent Assembly in 1989 (this is not against church law). However, one of those priests, Reverend Father Moses Adasu, decided to get involved in partisan politics. He asked his bishop for permission to contest the Benue State governorship election on the platform of the SDP. The bishop (in obedience to Canon Law) refused to grant permission to Adasu. Father Adasu contested anyway and he was excommunicated by the church.
Father Adasu went on to become the civilian governor of Benue State from January 1992-November 1993, when General Sani Abacha removed all civilian governors from office.
Years later, Father Adasu was reinstated as a Catholic priest (the Church is meant to be a forgiving church).