The Pope has excommunicated a Sunshine Coast priest.
The Pope has excommunicated a Sunshine Coast priest.

Sunshine Coast priest excommunicated by the Pope

THE Pope has excommunicated a Sunshine Coast priest for breaching the secret of the confessional after a lengthy investigation which included allegations of misconduct.

Fr Ezinwanne Igbo, originally from Nigeria, was punished by the Catholic Church after an investigation authorised by the Vatican which included numerous allegations including breaching confessional rules at the Stella Maris parish at Maroochydore.

Lawyer Terry Boyce, a Stella Maris parishioner who acted as Fr Igbo's support person through the canonical process, confirmed Fr Igbo had been excommunicated after a complaint he breached the rules of confessional secrecy after a complaint in June 2017.

Despite being found guilty by the church, Fr Igbo denies the allegations, Mr Boyce said.

Complaints against Fr Igbo's conduct were received by the church as far back as 2016 and then investigated under authorisation from the office of Pope Francis.

Stella Maris Catholic Church at Maroochydore. Picture: Lachie Millard
Stella Maris Catholic Church at Maroochydore. Picture: Lachie Millard

Mr Boyce said 12 charges were brought against Fr Igbo between 2016 and May 2017, "all of which were not proceeded with after Fr Igbo defended them".

He refused to detail the nature of the complaints or how many complainants were involved.  

Fr Igbo can attempt to get his job back, however only the Pope can allow him back into the church.  

The Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge asked parishioners to "to pray for all who have suffered as a result of what has happened".  

Archbishop Coleridge issued a written statement.  

"In 2016, the Archdiocese received a number of complaints concerning Fr Ezinwanne Igbo," the statement read.

"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."  

Fr Igbo intends to appeal, claiming a breach of process.  

The Archbishop's statement said: "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."

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