Pope appoints Bishop Okpaleke as Cardinal

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Most Rev. Dr. Peter Okpalaeke, Bishop of Ekwulobia Diocese has been appointed a Cardinal by His Holiness.

Peter Ebere Okpaleke born on 1 March 1963 in Amesi in Anambra State, Nigeria. He attended local schools and in 1983 entered the Bigard Memorial Major Seminary in Ikot-Ekpene and Enugu, where he studied philosophy and theology from 1983 to 1992. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Awka on 22 August 1990.

In the twenty years following his ordination he filled a wide variety of pastoral and administrative positions, including university chaplain, parish priest, diocesan finance administrator, diocesan chancellor, and secretary and member of diocesan boards. He also studied canon law in Rome at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

On 7 December 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Okpaleke Bishop of Ahiara, Nigeria. Okpaleke was consecrated a bishop on 21 May 2013. Because of objections to his appointment, his consecration was held outside the Diocese, in the Major Seminary of Ulakwo in the Archdiocese of Owerri.

Local clergy and parishioners objected to his appointment and prevented him from entering the cathedral in order to take possession of the diocese. A petition objecting to the fact that Okpaleke was not of the area’s Mbaise ethnic origin was sent to Pope Benedict after he appointed Okpaleke bishop.

On 9 June 2017, Pope Francis gave clergy in the diocese 30 days to either write a letter promising obedience and accepting Okpaleke as their bishop or be suspended. Clergy sent letters of apology but continued to protest what they saw as as racial discrimination. On 19 February 2018, Pope Francis accepted Okpaleke’s resignation as Bishop of Ahiara.

On 5 March 2020, Pope Francis appointed Okpaleke the Bishop of the Diocese of Ekwulobia, a newly created diocese in Anambra State which formerly had its territory under the jurisdiction of Awka Diocese. Okpaleke was installed on 29 April 2020.