Togolese priests condemn social media posts defaming bishop
Diocese of Kpalimé priests affirm support for Bishop Benoît Alowonou during chrism Mass
At the beginning of the chrism Mass at Holy Spirit Cathedral in Kpalimé, Togo, on March 28, priests from the Diocese of Kpalimé read out a statement in support of Bishop Benoît Alowonou following a bitter conflict with a group of local priests.
Entitled “Presbyterium of Kpalimé responds to written and oral messages published on social media,” the statement condemned what it characterized as “calumnious and degrading allegations” against Bishop Alowonou.
The statement is unprecedented in the history of the Diocese of Kpalimé, which is the second largest in Togo with just over 413,000 Catholics, and was erected in 1994.
For weeks, several priests have carried out a series of protest actions against Bishop Alowonou, 69, who has headed the diocese since 2001.
The messages, which were published on social media, condemned a series of alleged “grave failings” that are said to have prevented the diocese from developing normally.
Among other complaints, the rebel priests criticized the bishop for having “punitively transferred” certain priests in 2016.
Several sources told La Croix Africa that a series of meetings and talks have begun in a bid to try to resolve the issue.
In the statement read out at the chrism Mass, seven local parish priests and deans with other representatives of diocesan clergy and the union of consecrated religious gave their backing to Bishop Alowonou.
Father Emmanuel Amouzou-Daye, dean and parish priest of Notse, read the statement, which highlighted “the defamatory and lying character” of the “written and vocal messages published on social media” that were “mainly directed against the person of Bishop Benoît Alowonou.”
He also hit out at what he described as “scandalous” messages, which were sources of “dishonor” and “shame” for the sons and daughters of the diocese.
During the Mass, diocesan priests reaffirmed their “total communion” and “union” with the person and role of the bishop and renewed their priestly vow of obedience.
“The church, mother and teacher, invites her sons, especially her priests, to return to the source of the priesthood, this incomparable grace which has made them ministers of the sacraments,” Bishop Alowonou said in his homily.
He also emphasized the need for “the cooperation of priests and union with the bishop,” appealing to local Catholics to pray for him and for all priests.
Charles Ayetan, Lomé
Source : la-croix.com