Enugu, Nigeria, May 7, 2021 / 13:29 pm (CNA).
The Bishop of Enugu announced on Thursday a week of prayer in atonement and reparation following the desecration of the city’s cathedral, reportedly by followers of a priest of the local Church.
“On 5th May, the followers of Fr. Camillus Ejike Mbaka of the Adoration Ministry Enugu, Nigeria violently broke into the Diocesan Cathedral Church and desecrated the Holy Altar of sacrifice,” Bishop Callistus Onaga of Enugu said in a May 6 statement obtained by ACI Africa.
“Over and above this, they brutally vandalized the Diocesan Bishop’s residence, the Cathedral parish house and the secretariat building complex.”
Fr. Mbaka, 54, is the founder of Adoration Ministry. He was ordained in 1995. His ministry’s Facebook page has more than 2,600 followers.
In the statement addressed to the leadership of parishes, chaplains, and religious houses in the Diocese of Enugu, the bishop described the May 5 incident as a “heinous act” against the sanctity of the Church and called on the people of God in the diocese to repent.
“I hereby declare and call for a one-week union of prayer in reparation and atonement for this heinous act against our central place of worship and the sanctity of the Church,” said Bishop Onaga.
He added: “The prayer begins from Friday, May 7 to Friday, May 14. Every Parish, chaplaincy and Religious community in the Diocese is obliged to participate in this Holy activity.”
The bishop said that in addition to traditional May devotions such as daily Benediction, the people will be required to recite five decades of the rosary, perform the Act of Reparation to the Most Blessed Sacrament, and read and reflect upon passages from Psalms 50 and Psalm 22.
Bishop Onaga called for prayers for the diocese and urged the people to remain calm during what he has described as a challenging moment.
“I enjoin you to remain sober and to keep the Diocese in payer. With Divine assistance and grace, we shall overcome this challenging moment,” the bishop said.
Fr. Mbaka resurfaced hours after his followers stormed the episcopal residence demanding to know the priest’s whereabouts, as they thought he had gone missing.
The protesters claimed that Bishop Onaga had invited Fr. Mbaka for a meeting on May 2 and since then, Fr. Mbaka had not been seen.
Last week, Fr. Mbaka had reportedly called on Nigeria’s Members of Parliament to impeach President Muhammadu Buhari should he fail to resign over increasing insecurity in Nigeria.
Fr. Benjamin Achi, communications director of the Enugu diocese, described the alleged disappearance of Fr. Mbaka as “misinformation” in an interview with ACI Africa.
“He has resurfaced at 2:40 p.m. after a mob attacked the bishop’s house this morning destroying lots and lots of things,” Fr. Achi said in reference to Fr. Mbaka.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, Fr. Mbaka arrived at the residence of the Bishop of Enugu May 5 “in a motorcade amidst jubilation from his Adoration faithful.”
“He, however, stopped in front of the Bishop’s court and addressed his supporters urging them to remain calm and return to the Adoration ground for further information,” NAN reported.
Fr. Mbaka has since sought to defend his ministry, saying he is an instrument of God engaged in charity.
“I have no problem with the Church, I don’t have any problem with the Catholic Church nor with any Church. Am just a servant of God. Am just an instrument of God. Nobody will stop me from doing the charity am doing,” Fr. Mbaka said in a video recording published on Facebook May 5.
Last year, the priest was faulted for engaging in partisan politics after he was found expressing explicit support for one candidate in the gubernatorial elections of Imo State.