The Bishop of the crisis-ridden Catholic Diocese of Ahiara, Most Revd (Dr) Peter Okpalaeke, has resigned his appointment.
However, the Catholic Church did not disclose when Okpalaeke tendered his resignation letter to the Vatican.
Also, the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, has appointed Most Revd Lucius Ugorji, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia, as the Apostolic Administrator of Ahiara Diocese.
The development is contained in a terse statement released by the Director of Social Communications, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Revd Fr Chris Anyanwu, on the sideline of the ongoing first 2018 plenary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria.
Anyanwu said: “Following the resignation of Most Revd Peter Okpalaeke as the Bishop of Ahaira Diocese, as a result of the crisis that has lingered for nearly six years in that diocese, His Holiness, Pope Francis, has today appointed Most Rev Lucius Ugorji, the Bishop of Umuahia, as the Apostolic Administrator of Ahaira Diocese.”
Anyanwu added that the appointment of Ugorji is with immediate effect.
Recall that in December 2012, the clergy and the laity of the Catholic Diocese of Ahiara, refused to accept Bishop Peter Okpalaeke, appointed as their local ordinary on grounds that he is not of Mbaise extraction.
Until his appointment to the See of Ahiara, Okpalaeke was a priest of Awka Diocese.
The priests of Ahiara insisted that one out of the over 700 priests of the Mbaise origin should be chosen as the bishop of Ahiara.
Following the development, the Pope had in July, 2013, appointed the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, to oversee Ahiara as its Apostolic Administrator, but the crisis lingered.