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Catholic archdiocese relieves renegade priest of his pastoral duties in S. Leone

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone – The Catholic Archdiocese of Freetown has, with immediate effect, relieves Father Alphonso Carew of his assignment and duties as Chancellor of the archdiocese.

According to a communique from the Office of the Archbishop, His Grace Dr. Edward Tamba Charles addressed to all parishes within the archdiocese; Father Carew has been relieved of his post and instructed to seek medical attention with support and care from the Church.

Dismissed Chancellor Father Alphonso Carew

Globe Afrique has learned that it is perfectly normal for the Church to ask priests to seek or undergo medical attention, especially psychological review when a specific behavior pattern is routinely exhibited. 

According to reliable sources, this is not the first time that Father Carew has been requested to undergo a psychological evaluation. 

Father Carew, who was once a long-time administrator of the cathedral in Freetown, Sierra Leone in the 1990s, also served for some time in the Catholic Diocese of Memphis in the U.S. state of Tennessee.  While serving in Memphis, the diocese also requested him to undergo a similar evaluation, but he refused and later returned to his home country of Sierra Leone.

The position of diocesan Chancellor plays an essential role in the Catholic Church.  The Chancellor keeps the official archives of the diocese, as a notary certifies documents custodian, and generally manages the administrative offices (and sometimes finances and personnel) of a diocese. Vice-chancellors may assist him. As such, a priest or layperson in a position as critical as this needs to be physically and mentally fit and must display a temperament worthy of respect and credibility rather than subjecting himself to renegade patterns.

For decades, if not centuries, the Catholic Church has not been short on experiencing the emergence of renegade priests globally.  In the 1960s, Father William Dubay became a renegade priest in Los Angeles, USA.  According to a July 14, 1969 interview with the Ogdensburg Journal in Mountain Center, California, a year after his marriage, Mr. Dubay began seeing a psychiatrist once a week to help him adjust to his new life and halt his renegade behavior.  

In Australia, there are narratives of renegade priests, but the most exciting venture of all was the Church in exile and the renegade priest who no longer believed in God.   Accordingly, for more than 40 years, Father Peter Kennedy was a dedicated Catholic Priest. Each week he would stand in front of his congregation at St Mary’s Church in Brisbane and preach the Christian message.

But five years later, something changed – Kennedy was forced to leave his position at St Mary’s after a falling out with the Catholic Church for unacceptable behavior, including disobedience. Eventually, the Catholic Church decided enough was enough.

The United Kingdom also experienced its share of multiple renegade priests, including a renegade Catholic order in the U.K. that ‘harbors clergy accused of abuse.’  The sect was led by a British Catholic priest who had been excommunicated twice by different popes.

Renegade priest Father Richard Williamson, who was illicitly ordained as a bishop in 1988 by an ultra-conservative group, the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), and later convicted of Holocaust denial by a German court, was now head of the “SSPX Resistance,” based in Broadstairs, Kent.

In East Africa, the number of renegade priests is standard.  In Uganda, Rebel Fr Kibuuka Ordains Priests for Breakaway Rite. According to the November 2, 2016’s Edition of the Observer Newspaper of Uganda, before the charismatic Rev Fr Jacinto Kibuuka was suspended by Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga in July that year, little was known about the Antiochian rite of the Catholic Church that he paraded, the lies he told, and the divisions he sowed among Catholic faithful from one parish to the other.

Rev Fr Jacinto Kibuuka in green

The Catholic Church in Kenyan has had its share of wayward priests too.  Known as East Africa reengage priests, suspended Father Francis Nyawir of the Reformed Catholic Church engaged in radical behavior patterns.

Added to the list is Kenya’s ‘rapper priest’ suspended by the Catholic Church.  Father Paul Ogallo, who was nicknamed “Sweet Paul,” had to “choose between being a rapper and a priest.”  

According to the BBC, the Kenyan Catholic priest was suspended from leading public mass because he rapped during sermons, his superior had told the BBC.

In neighboring Liberia, a few Catholic priests with alleged psychological issues have also surfaced, with some attempting to put the Church in disrepute by cultivating lies and disparaging the names of the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Monrovia and the bishop of the Diocese of Cape Palmas. One of those priests Nimely JarboKly Donyen founded a breakaway wing of the Liberian Catholic Church and also joined the ranks of other African renegade Catholic priests who installed themselves as bishops and archbishops.

The so-called Bishop Donyen

According Liberia’s leading local daily newspaper, FrontPage Africa, “Bishop Donyen was consecrated by another renegade priest from East Africa, “Bishop” George Otieno Odhiambo, Presiding Bishop of the Charismatic Catholic Church International, Nairobi, Kenya, and assisted by “Archbishop” Jean Ndjewel of Cameroon and “Bishop” John Milton of the USA and “Bishop” Jacinto Kibuuka of Uganda.”

According to the local Liberian daily, “The ordination ceremony took place on Saturday, April 27, at the Cheerful Givers Church, Father Donyen Ministry Inc. in the Red Hill Community, Johnsonville Township, Montserrado County.”

Father Paul Ogallo, who was nicknamed “Sweet Paul,” had to “choose between being a rapper and a priest.”  

Many internationally accomplished social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists say there seems to be a common denominator that binds all renegade Catholic priests, and that is Delirium.

Delirium, also referred to as “acute confusional state” or “acute brain syndrome,” is a condition of severe confusion and rapid changes in brain function. Shorter in duration than dementia, it comprises a cluster of symptoms that may result from a treatable physical or mental illness.

Instead of priests who experiencing such conditions accepting to undergo treatment, they would typically establish themselves as being victims of punishment and witch-hunt and also as being virtual, just, fair, and sometimes feel they are right and justified.

Their behavior would normally leave the local church divided and the consequences can sometimes be very serious.  This is why when such behavior patterns are observed, smart leaders within the Church would swiftly take compassionate actions by relieving them of duties and recommending immediate care with full support.  It is often up to the priest to either accept or risks expulsion or abandonment such as indefinite suspension.  

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Dave Okonjie

Dave Okonjie is a public affairs analyst, researcher and senior issues correspondent.
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