Priest suspended for joining Benue state governorship race

Reverend Father Hycainth Alia has been suspended by the Catholic Diocese of Gboko in Benue State for displaying interest in the state’s governorship election.

Alia is one of the 12 governorship candidates that purchased APC expression of interest and candidacy forms in order to compete in the party’s primary election.

Bishop William Avenya, who is also Apostolic Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Kastina-Ala, stated in a viral suspension letter addressed to all priests, religious, and laity of the Catholic Diocese of Gboko, dated May 20, 2022, and signed by the Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Gboko, that the affected priest was previously warned in accordance with the church’s partisan politics rule.

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, Head of Media and Publicity, Alia 2023 Gubernatorial Organization, Kula Tersoo, said it was a normal practice of the church.

He noted that as stated clearly in the letter of suspension, Alia was only suspended from celebrating public Eucharistic masses, but that he remains a priest of the Catholic Church forever, adding that when his tenure ends in public civil service he shall resume his public masses and ministry.

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