The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos has suspended the Parish Priest of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Ewu-Owa Gberigbe in Ikorodu, Lagos, for banning Igbo songs in his parish.
Rev. Fr. James Anelu, has been known to chastise choristers who sing Igbo songs when he is officiating Mass in any parish in the South-South and South-West.
The reason he gives at these Masses is that Igbos are not the only ones who attend Catholic churches and the excesses of the Igbos must be contained.
Most recently, he angrily stopped choristers who were singing an Igbo chorus during the second collection, noting that Igbos cannot keep dominating other people in Catholic churches in non-eastern states.
He reportedly cited the case of his Benin Diocese where Igbos dominate to the point of an Igbo cleric becoming the Bishop.
It is alleged that he defended his viewpoint by claiming that the spirit of God recognizes only the geographical languages of the parish.
Alfred Adewale Martins, the Archbishop of Lagos, has now issued a “disclaimer”, directing Rev. Fr. James Anelu to proceed on “an indefinite leave of absence”, starting today, February 8.
While announcing the suspension, Martins, in the letter dated February 7, said: “It has been brought to our notice that Rev Fr James Anelu, the priest-in-charge of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Ewu-Owa, Ikorodu, made some completely unacceptable comments about Igbo songs being sung in the Church and unsavoury remarks that do not represent the Catholic church’s position on the common brotherhood of peoples of all tribes and religions.
“For this reason, he has been asked to proceed on an indefinite leave of absence to give an opportunity for a thorough investigation of all the matters relating to his ministry on the parish. The leave of absence takes effect from Tuesday, February 8, 2021, till further notice.
“We, therefore, urge all Catholic faithful to hold on to the faith and continue in worship of God as one big family united and not separated by language, culture, or race.”