The Catholic Church has such a long and illustrious history. It is not for nothing that the church which is many centuries old is at once considered both ancient and universal. In every country of the world, the catholic church maintains some form of presence. Even in those countries where the state sponsors hostility to religion, the catholic church maintains some form of presence even if it is underground.
The history of the Catholic Church is also one steeped in blood. The church is one that has travelled through centuries of cruelty, sometimes ruled by men who were among the worst of their kind in their days.
Today, the catholic church has become a universal symbol of unity and peace. Yet, every now and then, its ugly past rears up its ugly head exposing in the process the darkness that lives in the hearts of so many of the men who wear its robes and mount its pulpit.
The Catholic Church has always been a very conservative church. As a church that has always reveled in age and grace, the church has long been a symbol of that which is tried, tested and trusted.
The church in Nigeria has always been a very conservative one. It explains why even as the gale of Pentecostalism has swept by, sweeping many along with it, the Catholic Church has largely remained unchanged.
However, in recent times, there has arisen within the church some members of the church who preach the word of God accompanied by great signs and wonders.
Some of them are catholic priests within the church while some of them are just lay faithful.
Expectedly, their firebrand manner of preaching which takes potshots from time to time at some of the unchanging ways of the church that many find incredulous, has brought them at loggerheads with the men who man the church. Accordingly, there have been sanctions.
For Ejike Mbaka of Adoration Ministries Enugu, a sentencing to a monastery where he is to pray and reflect on his vocation has been interpreted by many as an attempt to finally silence a man who has constantly but controversially charged into the stormy waters of politics and national affairs in Nigeria.
Magnus Ebere is the spiritual director of Canaanland Adoration Ministries Worldwide. The ministry which has a presence in Anambra State as well as Imo State has been the subject of canonical sanctions in both states by both the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha and the Catholic Diocese of Ahiara.
Ebuka Anozie Obi is the spiritual director of Zion Prayer Ministry Worldwide which is based in Lagos State. A running battle between the ministry and the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos has been brewing for a while now.
Yet, many faithful Catholics and non- Catholics continue to flock to the prayer grounds in search of spiritual sustenance. Given how traditionally reluctant Catholics are to go elsewhere, it is telling that these days, many of them easily shove their doubts aside go elsewhere in search of spiritual strength.
It begs the question of what the catholic church in Nigeria is really and truly afraid of. For the men in question, the version of events common to them is that their persecution is tinged with shades of envy and jealously, and no little pecuniary reasons.
For them, they interpret what is happening to them as them as the prize they are paying for daring to be different.
For many Catholics, opinion is divided. The church has remained unchanging in its ways for many years and perhaps will never change, while the world continues to witness change at a dizzy pace.
For the catholic church in Nigeria, especially for the men who man its pulpits but struggle mightily to live out their vows drawing audible gasps from an increasingly bemused faithful, it may be time to truly checks if it is threatened by the activities of a handful of men who pull crowds, or whether the panicked reaction is simply the handiwork of a few of those who hide behind ancient institutions to constantly renew puerile and premature vendettas.