The Catholic Church’s rules forbid priests from engaging in partisan politics.
The Catholic Diocese of Gboko in Benue State has suspended Reverend Father, Hyacinth Alia, for dabbling into partisan politics.
The suspended priest is among the 12 aspirants who purchased the Expression of Interest and Nomination forms of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to participate in the party’s governorship primary in Benue state.
However, in a letter dated May 20, 2022 and signed by the Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Gboko, Bishop William Avenya, who is also Apostolic Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Katsina-Ala, the Church informed the all the priests, religious and laity of the Catholic Gboko that Alia had earlier been warned in line with the church’s stance on partisan politics, Daily Trust reported.
The letter read, “I write to communicate to you the suspension of my priest, Rev Fr. Hyacinth Iornem Alia from public ministry after series of admonitions to him.
“The mother church does not allow her clerics to get involved in partisan politics on their own Ex can. 285, 3 CIC. You’re aware that my son, your brother and your priest has purchased the party’s form to contest for the office of the governor of Benue State under the All Progressives Congress which is usually against our vocation.
“Therefore, to respond to the spiritual and pastoral needs of the church in the Catholic Diocese of Gboko, I have suspended him from exercise of sacred ministry. This canonical suspension takes effect from the moment it is communicated to him and last until he ceases from contumacy.”
Reacting to the suspension, the Head of Media and Publicity, Alia 2023 Gubernatorial Organization, Kula Tersoo, said the development was consistent with the regular practice of the church.
He explained that Alia still remains a priest of the Catholic Church as the letter only suspended him from celebrating public Eucharistic masses.
Tersoo added that the governorship aspirant will resume public masses and ministry once his tenure in public service comes to an end.
He cited a similar incident involving the second civilian governor of the state, late Rev. Fr. Moses Orshio Adasu, who also went through the same process.
Terso, therefore, urged Alia’s supporters to remain calm because the cleric is well prepared and focused on the task ahead.