There was confusion in the minds of members of the congregation at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in in Isiala Mbano Council area of Imo State after a priest shot his assistant over a disagreement that turned violent
The Catholic parish in Imo state
Rev. Fr. Christian Amusuo, the parish priest of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Eziama Osuama in Isiala Mbano Council area of Imo State, may have sown doubt and confusion in the minds of members of his congregation on what to do with Jesus Christ’s teaching on love, peace and anger management, as recorded in the scriptures, with his alleged shooting of his assistant, identified as Fr. Precious over a disagreement that turned violent on June 23, this year.
Although the victim survived the gun attack, it has stirred a major scandal in the parish, with police arrest of the trigger-happy priest, who has also been suspended from office by the Bishop of Okigwe Catholic Diocese, Anthony Ilonu.
Details of the cause of their altercation was unknown, but, Saturday Sun learnt that both clerics had been having a running battle, with Fr. Amusuo complaining of insubordination by Precious.
While the bishop was said to have been very furious about the scandalous behaviour of Amusuo, the incident has also left the parishioners shocked and in dilemma on the apparently poor moral example demonstrated by their shepherd.
The church members said the shooting incident was the climax of an intractable personal problem between the two priests, noting that the parish priest had allegedly accused his assistant of flouting his orders in the past.
One of the parishioners told Saturday Sun that the clash was an open secret in the church, but noted that the parishioners could not intervene as they lacked the power over the priests.
His words: “We had noticed that the two priests had been having a running battle before we heard the sad news that the parish priest had shot his assistant after a heated argument. We also learnt that Fr. Amusuo had often complained that his Assistant always disobeyed his instructions and that had always been a source of friction between the two priests and we as laity cannot intervene in their matter, because they are supposed to be our shepherds. It is only the Bishop of the Okigwe Diocese who can settle their matter. So, we are not surprised that their quarrel degenerated to that extent, which is very sad”.
He remarked that the gun attack was sacrilegious as the priest should have taken the case to their superior.
A member of the Catholic Women Organization in the church, who did not want her name in print, said church members were shocked when they heard of the incident, but noted that no matter the provocation, the parish priest, as a man of God, should not have done what he did.
“We are not happy that our parish is in the news for the wrong reasons, because what had happened should not have happened in the first instance . We as mothers of the church know how to handle such problem if they were not priests. But we are powerless to act in the matter, because we don’t really know the main cause. But, we heard that Father Amusuo and Father Precious, who is the assistant, had been quarreling over administrative issues.”
She suggested that the bishop should sanction them, especially the assistant priest, as he was supposed to be loyal to his boss. “If he is not comfortable working with his boss, he should have asked the bishop to transfer him to another parish, instead of fighting, which is not expected of priests,” she said.
However, an indigene of the community Nweke Chibuzor, said it was disgraceful for a priest to assault his colleague with a gun and advised that Amusuo be expelled from the church to serve as deterrent to others.
“If a priest shoots his fellow priest over a disagreement, what will he do to an ordinary person? As a priest, if your assistant is stubborn, you have to pray to God for him to change, not by shooting him. What if he had died? The priest would have been standing for murder.”
Confirming the incident, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Andrew Enwerem, said the Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, had ordered immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.
He said the priest had been released, while the gun had been recovered from him.