Lagos Catholic priest suspended indefinitely for banning Igbo songs

By Chinelo Obogo

The Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos has asked Rev. Fr. James Anelu, the Priest-in-Charge of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Enu-owa, Ikorodu, to proceed on indefinite leave for reportedly prohibiting parishioners from singing songs in Igbo language during service.

In a disclaimer issued on Monday, the Archbishop of Lagos Diocese, Alfred Martins, said Rev. Fr. Anelu made some unacceptable comments about Igbo songs being sung in the church and that the remarks did not represent the Catholic church’s position on common brotherhood of people of all tribes and religions. 

“It has been brought to our notice that Rev. Fr. James Anelu, the Priest-in-Charge of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Enu-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 common brotherhood of people 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 in the parish. The leave of absence takes effect from Tuesday, February 8, 2022 till further notice.

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“We, therefore, call all Catholic faithful to hold on to the faith and continue in our worship of God as one big family, united in love and not separated by language, culture or race,” Archbishop Martins said.

During a recent service in his Ikorodu parish, Rev. Fr. Anelu allegedly banned songs in Igbo language from being sung in the church, saying the Igbo cannot keep dominating other people, even in his church.

He reportedly cited the case of the Benin Diocese where he said Igbo dominated to the point that a bishop from the South East was put in charge. He allegedly said that the spirit of God in any place recognises only languages indigenous to that geographical area.

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