Tsunami Fr. Patrick Edet * How he betrayed Bishops Ekuwem, Ayah * Opens new ministry in Ibom Hall

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It is one news item that has dominated the public space since last Wednesday. It has made inroads into the deepest ends of the world.The announcement on radio last week by former priest of the Catholic Church, Fr. Patrick Edet of his resignation as a priest shocked many.

It was a development that many could not relate with immediately. Even now, many have yet to come to terms that Fr. Edet is no longer a priest of the Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Uyo.

Those who still doubt the development hold on to the lean faith that when one is ordained a priest, he is a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. There are also those that have since moved on knowing full well that the decision taken by Patrick Edet cannot be reversed considering his kind of person.

Not a few persons have situated Fr. Edet’s decision within the context of pride. Within his Grace Family Ministry, some persons who often attended his programmes opine that Fr. Edet had issues with pride. Without doubt, even yours truly often heard him talk about this singular weakness. At various fora, Fr. Edet said that his greatest weakness is pride hence he prays daily for God to help him overcome it.

Fr. Edet was ordained a Catholic Priest on December, 19th, 2003 at St. Peter’s Parish, University of Uyo by then Bishop Joseph Ekuwem. Patrick Henry Edet hails from  Enwang in Mbo local government area of Akwa Ibom State.
Until he elected to leave the Church, he was the parish priest of St. Lawrence’s Parish, Eman Uruan. 


He served in the parish for 5 years having returned from Abuja where he was sent to by then Bishop Ekuwem when his activities in Uyo diocese raised dusts, according to those who should know.

While in Abuja, Fr. Edet reportedly made waves to the extent that the authorities there were no longer comfortable due to the fact that he attracted ‘traffic’ to the Police Chaplaincy where he was serving. It was gathered by this reporter that it was the pressure mounted on him by some elderly priests in Abuja who were no longer comfortable with his popularity that forced Bishop Ekuwem to bring him back to Uyo diocese. 

On return, his transfer to St. Lawrence’s Parish, Eman Uruan was seen as a “punishment” by many who felt that he will not be able to continue his ministry there having been asked to leave Uniuyo where he began his Grace Family Ministry even before he was sent to Abuja. Fr. Edet still continued his ministry there but the turnout was no longer encouraging due to the distance and the fact that the road leading to the parish was in a state of disrepair.


Determined to win back his members, Fr. Edet applied to the diocese to be allowed to use the Catholic Secretariat at Brooks Street for his programmes. The priest in charge at the time, Fr. Charles Bassey granted him the permission. Some priests were not comfortable with the development and wondered why he could leave his parish and acquire the Pastoral Centre for his programme.  Then Bishop Ekuwem had a tough time with priests who were not at ease with Fr. Edet using the Church property for what they termed “ his personal ministry. “


Until Bishop Ekuwem, now the Archbishop of Calabar left Uyo Diocese, the push by some priests to have Patrick Edet vacate the premises was still at its height. It was believed that with Bishop Ekuwem being transferred to Calabar, the next Bishop that will emerge will facilitate the process of sacking Patrick from the Church’s facility. The feeling amongst some priests was that Ekuwem had a soft spot for Patrick Edet because they hail from the same local government area. 


Fr. Patrick, himself, had developed fears when Ekuwem left as he felt that his time at the Pastoral Centre was up. In one of his ministrations, he told his congregation how he prayed, fasted for God to give Uyo Diocese a Bishop that will love and support his ministry. As fate could have it, Bishop Ayah of Ogoja diocese was installed as the Local Ordinary of Uyo diocese. As if it was all designed, Bishop Ayah fell in love with Fr. Patrick, embraced his ministry, gave him the latitude to continue with his vision and mission. This support by Ayah rankled priests. They were aghast that Bishop Ayah pitched tent with Edet even when they had concluded plans to sack him from the pastoral centre. 


For the three years and four months that Patrick Edet used the Catholic Secretariat, he was constantly under pressure from some senior priests who felt he had derailed. Many priests also frowned at Ayah’s relationship with Fr. Edet. With their flowery relationship, the task of yanking off Fr. Patrick from the centre became a herculean one. In his ministry, Fr. Edet often spoke of how he faced opposition from priests and the antagonism he faced because of the venue he was using. Preempting what may befall him anytime, he reportedly acquired a land along Nwaniba Road where he intended to build his permanent ministry. The land could not be put to use because the Bishop, according to informed sources, scuppered the move with the reason that it is not legal within the church’s laws for a priest to build a private centre for his ministry or anything for that matter outside his parish. 


Sources close to Fr. Edet hinted our reporter that he was insenced by this move hence the desire to leave the Church in order to operate uncontrolled gained momentum. It was gathered from impeccable sources that Fr. Edet took the decision to part ways with the Church in December, 2016. Some priests close to him reportedly prevailed on him to perish the idea all to no avail. Some of them who used to frequent his ministry especially Night of Grace, visibly  began to distance themselves from his programmes. The shrinking number of priests raised eyebrows amongst critical minds because it was unusual since a good number of them identified fully with him especially at his Friday Night of Grace prayers. 


All the rumours were laid to rest at his July all night programme when he told the crowded arena that he will no longer use the centre for his ministry. He announced an eight-day programme coming up in September but did not include the venue. Grace Family members were waiting for the announcement of a new venue when he dropped the bombshell in his weekly radio show “Grace and Inspiration” on Planet FM that he is no longer a Catholic priest. “On fhe 31st July, I resigned my services, duties and obligations as a Catholic priest.

Yesterday (Aug 1st) was my first day outside the laws, regulations and obligations of the Catholic Church in my mind. The laws that bound me bound me because I submitted myself to the Church as an institution. I did that consciously without consulting anybody; without having to depend on any human judgement inspired by Paul who, having encountred the Lord didn’t consult with the apostle and went straight to spend time with God. It took me seven months of prayers, fasting and crying to God all night because I know it’s a decision of life and death. Having submitted my letter to my authority, in my spirit, soul and body, I am free from every law that bound me to the Church. I submit myself to one authority – God.”

As if resigning on radio, a public platform was not okay, the letter he handed to the Bishop on 31st July had hardly settled before he went public with his decision. On submitting the said letter, it was gathered that the Bishop prevailed on him to pipe low until August when priests shall gather for their annual meeting. But announcing his resignation on radio a day after was not less shocking for a man who stood by him and publicly registered his support for Patrick and his ministry during Cathedraticum organised by Grace Family on November 11, 2016 in  honour of Bishop Ayah with the  caveat that he must not sidetrack the church’s beliefs and doctrine in his ministry.

It was a colourful ceremony that Bishop Ayah later said he had to forgo an important engagement to attend due to his love for Patrick Edet.

Rev.-Fr.-Patrick-Edet-The-way-forward-By-Osondu-Ahirika Tsunami Fr. Patrick Edet * How he betrayed Bishops Ekuwem, Ayah * Opens new ministry in Ibom Hall
Rev. Fr. Patrick Edet

Since Fr. Edet left the Church, no  statement has come from the Church to that effect. Sources within the Church hinted our reporter that the Church will not make any public comment on the issue, adding that priests have left the Church in the past without the Church saying anything.
Fr. Edet’s decision has raised several posers. One of which is the fate of the army of followers he built over the years, priests that identified with him, will he marry? What next, is he a priest forever? The implications of his action? The position of the Church on priests that walk away, and lots more.

What the Church says about “fallen” priests:
There is a delicate distinction that must be made between the metaphysical fact that a man is always a priest once he has been ordained, and the canonical status of a laicized priest. And as we have seen so many times before, canon law is in complete accord with theology on this subject. Let’s take a look at what both of them have to say.

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The Catechism states that the sacrament of Holy Orders confers an “indelible spiritual character” on the man who receives it (CCC 1582). Like the sacrament of Baptism, it can never be erased—a baptized Christian can cease to practice his faith, and even publicly deny Christ, but he can never undo his baptism. Priestly ordination works in exactly the same way.

Similarly, canon 290 of the Code of Canon Law states bluntly that once a man validly receives sacred ordination, the sacrament never becomes invalid. As David says in his question, once a priest, always a priest. A cleric can never become a layman again.

At the same time, however, it is possible for a priest to be released from the duties and responsibilities that are connected to the clerical state (CCC 1583). Practically speaking, this would mean that a priest no longer functioned outwardly as a priest. He would no longer engage in ministry within his diocese or religious institute; no longer celebrate Mass or confer the sacraments; no longer be called “Father” or wear clerical clothing; and no longer be supported financially by the Church. To the world he would appear to be a layman, working at an ordinary job and living the normal life of the laity. Canon law refers to this change as the “loss of the clerical state” (cf. cc. 290-293). Common parlance calls it laicization.”

What the Church says about priests who lose the clerical state:

It can be imposed upon him, as the most serious penalty for a priest who has committed an ecclesiastical crime, but that does not take place very often—nor should it. Ordinarily, it happens because a priest voluntarily requests it. For any number of reasons, he may conclude that he cannot continue living the life of a priest. Ideally, of course, the realization that it will be impossible to live and work as a priest for the rest of one’s life should be reached when a man is still a seminarian, during the years of theological study and spiritual formation leading up to his ordination. But sometimes life simply doesn’t work that way. Various combinations of emotional and health issues, deaths and other events within the priest’s family, and of course the immense stress of being constantly overworked while feeling unappreciated may lead a priest to reach this decision after he is already ordained and engaged in priestly ministry.

When this occurs, and a priest is released from the clerical state, he is still technically a priest, but as canon 292 notes, he may no longer exercise the power of orders. Since this is what the priest is requesting anyway, there is usually little fear that he will violate this restriction. But in theory, if a laicized priest were to say Mass, it would be a valid Mass, since he never loses the ability to celebrate the Eucharist. It would, however, be illicit. (The difference between an invalid act, and an act that is valid but illicit, was discussed in greater detail back in “Are They Really Catholic? Part II.”).

Theoretically, if at some point in the future the laicized priest changed his mind, and wanted to live as a priest again, this would be canonically possible—but he would have to receive permission to be once more “re-instated” directly from Rome (c. 293). For obvious reasons, the Church does not want undecided men easily moving back and forth, in and out of the priestly state! But in any case, a previously-laicized priest returning to ministry would not be ordained again, as he would still be an ordained priest already.

The fact that it is impossible to “un-ordain” a priest explains the otherwise curious wording of canon 976. This canon states that any priest, even one who lacks the faculty to hear confessions, can validly and licitly hear the confession of anyone who is in danger of death. Thus even a laicized priest, who certainly has lost his confessional faculties, can hear the confession of someone who is dying. In fact, canon 986.2 goes even farther: in an urgent situation, every priest is obliged to hear the confession of a Catholic in danger.”

Priests who leave and seek read mission:
Because the figures that are circulated in this arena are sometimes farfetched, we would like to present accurate information about both the abandonment of the priestly ministry, and about the rather less well-known phenomenon of the readmittance to it of those who had left it behind. This is, in fact, in our view, an area that demonstrates in ways that are more easily understood today the care of persons on the part of the Church, or more precisely the “maternity” of the Church, something that is rarely emphasized.


There are no exact figures on the numbers of priests who, having left the ministry, are now married. On the basis of indications sent to the Vatican from the dioceses, from 1964 to 2004, 69,063 priests left the ministry. From 1970 to 2004, 11,213 priests have returned to the ministry. This means that there cannot be more than 57,000 married priests. Probably there are many fewer, because over forty years a number of them have died. So the figures cited by the press and by the associations of married priests, speaking of 80,000-100,000 ex-priests, are unfounded. 

Today the proportion of defections is rising slightly, but it cannot be compared to the proportion during the 1970’s. Each years from 2000 to 2004, an average of .26% of priests have left the priesthood, or 5,383 in five years. At the same time, there has also been a rise in the number of those asking to be readmitted to the priestly ministry. Of the 1,076 priests who leave the ministry each year, 554 ask for a dispensation from the obligations imposed by the priestly state: celibacy, and the recitation of the breviary (1). Of the remaining 552, 74 return to the ministry each year.

It may be noted that 40% of the requests for dispensation come from priests belonging to a religious order or congregation. Since August 1, 2005, 16 percent of the requests for dispensation have come from deacons. For the period from 2000 to 204, there are 2,240 priests whose situation cannot be determined.

More precise data for the individual years reveal that, in 2000, 930 priests left the ministry, while 89 were readmitted. 571 dispensations were granted, of which 68 were extended to men under the age of 40, and 39 to men at the point of death. 112 dispensations were granted to deacons. In the five years after this, the figures rose, but not by much. In 2002, there were 1,219 defections, and 71 re-entries; 550 dispensations were granted, 19 of which were for men under the age of 40 and 31 for men at the point of death; 98 dispensations were granted to deacons. In 2004, there were 1,081 defections and 56 re-entries; 476 dispensations were granted to priests, 27 of which were for men under the age of 40 and 6 for men at the point of death. 

 

From August 1, 2005 to October 20, 2006, the congregation for the clergy received 804 requests for dispensations, including those for deacons. Including the 100 applications received by the congregation for the sacraments, the requests come: 185 from the United States, 119 from Italy, 60 from Spain, 59 from Brazil, 52 from Poland, 48 from Mexico, 32 from Germany, 31 from the Philippines, 29 from Argentina, 27 from India, 26 from France, 23 from Ireland, 22 from Canada, etc. Different Vatican congregations are mentioned because until 1988 responsibility for dispensations belonged to the congregation for the doctrine of the faith.

Can a priest return to a lay state?
It is true that the Church teaches that “you are a priest forever” (Ps. 110.4). The fact that one nevertheless occasionally encounters an “ex-priest” would therefore appear to be a contradiction.

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There is a delicate distinction that must be made between the metaphysical fact that a man is always a priest once he has been ordained, and the canonical status of a laicized priest. And as we have seen so many times before, canon law is in complete accord with theology on this subject. Let’s take a look at what both of them have to say.

The Catechism states that the sacrament of Holy Orders confers an “indelible spiritual character” on the man who receives it (CCC 1582). Like the sacrament of Baptism, it can never be erased—a baptized Christian can cease to practice his faith, and even publicly deny Christ, but he can never undo his baptism. Priestly ordination works in exactly the same way.

Similarly, canon 290 of the Code of Canon Law states bluntly that once a man validly receives sacred ordination, the sacrament never becomes invalid. As David says in his question, once a priest, always a priest. A cleric can never become a layman again.

At the same time, however, it is possible for a priest to be released from the duties and responsibilities that are connected to the clerical state (CCC 1583). Practically speaking, this would mean that a priest no longer functioned outwardly as a priest. He would no longer engage in ministry within his diocese or religious institute; no longer celebrate Mass or confer the sacraments; no longer be called “Father” or wear clerical clothing; and no longer be supported financially by the Church. To the world he would appear to be a layman, working at an ordinary job and living the normal life of the laity. Canon law refers to this change as the “loss of the clerical state” (cf. cc. 290-293). Common parlance calls it laicization.

Why would a priest lose the clerical state?
It can be imposed upon him, as the most serious penalty for a priest who has committed an ecclesiastical crime, but that does not take place very often—nor should it. Ordinarily, it happens because a priest voluntarily requests it. For any number of reasons, he may conclude that he cannot continue living the life of a priest. Ideally, of course, the realization that it will be impossible to live and work as a priest for the rest of one’s life should be reached when a man is still a seminarian, during the years of theological study and spiritual formation leading up to his ordination. But sometimes life simply doesn’t work that way. Various combinations of emotional and health issues, deaths and other events within the priest’s family, and of course the immense stress of being constantly overworked while feeling unappreciated may lead a priest to reach this decision after he is already ordained and engaged in priestly ministry.

When this occurs, and a priest is released from the clerical state, he is still technically a priest, but as canon 292 notes, he may no longer exercise the power of orders. Since this is what the priest is requesting anyway, there is usually little fear that he will violate this restriction. But in theory, if a laicized priest were to say Mass, it would be a valid Mass, since he never loses the ability to celebrate the Eucharist. It would, however, be illicit. (The difference between an invalid act, and an act that is valid but illicit, was discussed in greater detail back in “Are They Really Catholic? Part II.”).

Theoretically, if at some point in the future the laicized priest changed his mind, and wanted to live as a priest again, this would be canonically possible—but he would have to receive permission to be once more “re-instated” directly from Rome (c. 293). For obvious reasons, the Church does not want undecided men easily moving back and forth, in and out of the priestly state! But in any case, a previously-laicized priest returning to ministry would not be ordained again, as he would still be an ordained priest already.

The fact that it is impossible to “un-ordain” a priest explains the otherwise curious wording of canon 976. This canon states that any priest, even one who lacks the faculty to hear confessions, can validly and licitly hear the confession of anyone who is in danger of death. Thus even a laicized priest, who certainly has lost his confessional faculties, can hear the confession of someone who is dying. In fact, canon 986.2 goes even farther: in an urgent situation, every priest is obliged to hear the confession of a Catholic in danger.

Is he free to marry?

According to the law of celibacy, a Catholic priest who renounces his priestly vows is free to go ahead and marry only when he has undergone a process to be administered by the Vatican. Having freely singed to be celibate, he cannot just walk away from that law like that. Patrick Edet, from findings has yet to go through that process hence going ahead to marry with that law still hanging on his head may have spiritual implications. 

Meanwhile, a new priest, Rev. Fr. Michael Nyong has been appointed the new parish priest of St. Lawrence’s patish, Eman Uruan. Fr. Nyong hails from the same local government area as Patrick Edet. 

THE INK scooped from impeccable sources that Patrick Edet has already secured Ibom Hall for his new ministry christened Covenant Grace Assembly.”

BY KENNETH JUDE

The Killer Punch News | Latest News About Akwa Ibom, Nigeria

The post Tsunami Fr. Patrick Edet * How he betrayed Bishops Ekuwem, Ayah * Opens new ministry in Ibom Hall appeared first on The Killer Punch News.

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