October 28, 2016 By Mohamed Massaquoi
Following stout opposition by some Catholic faithful in the northern region to prevent Bishop Henry Aruna from taking over as spiritual head of Makeni Diocese, sources say the bishop would be among Catholic worshipers for a special thanksgiving service this Sunday in the township.
According to Father Michael Talenga, the ceremony would be designed as special prayers, and that the Makeni meeting would be a pilgrimage for catholic worshipers to forgive one another, with a focus on peace and stability within the Church and the country as a whole.
Bishop Aruna was appointed by Pope Francis to head the Makeni Dioceses in January 2012, but he was controversially rejected by some members of the Catholic Church, including priests from the diocese, on the grounds that he is Mende from the eastern region who does not understand their culture.
Although he was ordained at a lavish ceremony at the St. Edwards Secondary School in Freetown, in January 2013, he was never allowed to take up residence in Makeni.
He was, however, re-appointed as Auxiliary Bishop of Kenema, and upon his arrival in the township said: “I have worked as a priest in the Kenema Diocese from 1993 to 1994. I have a lot of experience not only in Sierra Leone but the West Coast of Africa. What happened in Makeni was very unfortunate and it is a shame to the Church and it was against the Catholic doctrine.”
The soft-spoken cleric said: “I want to call on the Catholic family that what happened in Makeni should not divide the Church. Makeni has made a mistake and I therefore call for forgiveness, and urged all to continue working together as a unit in upholding the doctrine of the Catholic mission.”