Re: Crisis in Anglican Church hots up, writers who manufacture stories

I am sorry to have been away suddenly and unceremoniously from this column for such a long time. It wasn’t quite polite. I tender unqualified apology for that. Please forgive me. I’m back. I will make up.
Donald Trump calls them “fake news”. Don’t mind him! What is credible news to the man is a story that favours him by hiding his idiosyncratic behaviour.  Fake news is the one that reports his misdeeds.  Not in this case.  This one does not fit into what we might call responsible and professional journalism. You wonder are there news items that are really faked. Of course, yes, even though this notion gives us, journalists, collective bad name which we do not all deserve. The one above carried by First Citizen, I presume a new local Owerri paper, on its front page of September 5, 2019, is a good example. To me the news is amusing, surprising and annoying – all of that.
News is not any story without a source. News is not a made-up story by the reporter, of which the editor is only there to disallow. News is not whimsy. It is not the writer’s philosophical wave of mind. News is not claims, just claims. News is factual. The newsman’s regard for back-up evidence must always by scrupulous. My judgment of the news in question is that it failed all these tests, although the tests are not complete.
News must be true. This one claims falsely a number of things: There is crisis. This crisis “hots up”. Members (Owerri Anglicans) are demanding an Owerri Central Diocese in which the bishop must be an indigene. Let me just dismiss this as the writer’s or newspaper’s figment of imagination. It is not true. I have not seen it, except the paper wants to fly a kite or start the flame. If it was true, the script would have contained names of those making this ridiculous demand. There is neither evidence of a crisis in the story, nor of a crisis that is hotting up.
A vital aspect of the write-up that would have made the story a bit credible was to have carried the reporter’s name. This was omitted, I believe deliberately, because the story is all-round indefensible, if not shameful. Nobody can easily take the questions arising from it. It is possible the story could have been irresistible for the editor to publish because it is sensational. But the professional risk in doing that is immense. The biggest risk is that it lowers the integrity of the editor and the paper. It would cost the paper readership, where readers are discerning and sensitive. They won’t waste their money buying lies. Yet this is a nascent, promising publication.
However, the story is interesting as a raw material. Because of its obvious shortcomings, it requires a follow-up to prove the missing things. I must tolerate the shortcomings in the interest of freedom of expression as a liberal-minded journalist.
Still I question the idea of breaking up the Diocese of Owerri into little spheres of influence that can hardly pay their costs. I suppose a Diocese is meant to be a bloc of territory created to make administration of worship simpler, better and more effective. A Diocese cannot be an area where political religionists can take advantage of to divide and rule.
We won’t welcome this idea of the demand for new Dioceses becoming a matter of inter-LGA competition, and the appointment of bishops being a matter of crazy rivalry between groups of hamlets. This detracts from the accepted notion of the church as a fellowship and as a communion in which the emphasis is on coming together and uniting, rather than breaking up and going apart. The idea of break up and break away in the Anglican Church is not one that should be allowed to take root. That is not the reasoning on which demand for the creation of a Diocese should be based. It won’t work looking at it that way.
The idea of a new “Owerri Central Anglican Diocese” as a separatist tendency is inimical to the interest of the church. Anyone that promotes the idea may think he/she is being patriotic to Owerri. But it is destructive. Its long-term consequences may be grave. The thinking may be that  would promote the elevation of Owerri indigenous priests, increasing the chances of one or two of them becoming bishops. But can the so-called Owerri Central Diocese stand on its feet? The allegation of religious colonization of Owerri, because the area has not produced a bishop is poor argument. The bishop of a Diocese of a few people will live to regret it. People were never made bishops because their areas first got a Diocese. The appointment of a bishop is not a reward to the bishop’s geographical area by the church. It is done on personal merit and of course through the direction of the Holy Spirit of God.
If the issue is for one’s own person to be made a bishop or for one to make oneself a bishop, making it a political struggle is not the way to go about it. We are advised to rely on the grace of God in this regard. The post of a bishop is God’s exclusive choice. All must accept it as such.
Anybody trying to impose his will in this or trying to grab it by intimidation or unfair means disqualifies both the method and the projected candidate(s). No matter the intrigues applied, the will of God will be done.

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