A Nigerian-born Catholic priest has been ex-communicated for allegedly breaching rules of confession secrecy.
Pope Francis ordered that Father Ezinwanne Igbo of Stella Maris parish in Maroochydore, Queensland, Australia ,be axed after a two-year investigation.
The investigation followed a complaint that he breached rules of confession secrecy from 2016.
The Archbishop of Mark Coleridge said in a statement Father Igbo was alleged to have committed a canonical (church) offence.
“The Archbishop then submitted the judgment to the Holy See, who subsequently requested that the communication be made public,” the Archbishop said.
“The excommunication will remain in force until Fr. Ezinwanne seeks and is granted remission by the Pope, who alone can grant it.”
While excommunicated, Fr. Igbo cannot participate in public worship, celebrate or receive sacraments and cannot exercise any office of ministry in the church.
The priest’s lawyer Terry Boyce said 12 charges were brought against Fr. Igbo but all of them were “not proceeded with after Fr. Igbo defended them.”
Fr. Igbo is planning to appeal the decision after he was found guilty by the church.
The statement reads: “In 2016, the Archdiocese received a number of complaints concerning Fr Ezinwanne Igbo.
“In one of those complaints, he was alleged to have committed a canonical offence which resulted in automatic excommunication.
“This was not a criminal offence under civil law. An investigative process was authorised by the Holy See and conducted by senior canon lawyers. The process confirmed the allegation unanimously.
“The Archbishop then submitted the judgment to the Holy See, who subsequently requested that the excommunication be made public.
“The excommunication will remain in force until Fr Ezinwanne seeks and is granted remission by the Pope, who alone can grant it.
“While the excommunication remains in force, Fr Ezinwanne can have no ministerial part in the celebration of Mass or any other public worship; he cannot celebrate or receive the sacraments; and he cannot exercise any office of ministry in the church.”