Catholic Archbishop Ziyaye defies Vatican order on suspected priest over nepotism charges

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)- Malawi’s Catholic Archbishop for Lilongwe Diocese, Tarcizio Ziyaye is under intense pressure for defying a Vatican order by continuing to suspend Madisi Parish priest Fr. Maximian Khisi after daring Ziyaye over nepotism tendencies, it has been established.

The Maravi Post understands that Fr. Khisi is currently at his home village at Mtengowanthenga in Dowa district waiting his fate after Archbishop Ziyaye wrote again removing him from his position as parish priest at Madisi.

Fr. Khisi wrote the Vatican in Italy, the Catholic Church headquarters about the nepotism accusations against Archbishop Ziyaye, which did not go down well with the Archbishop.

In his letter, which is in our possession titled, “Chivunde” and dated August 23, 2016, Fr. Khisi exposes Lilongwe Archdiocese’ top management of being composed of priests from Mchinji where Archbishop Ziyaye comes from.

These include the vicar-general, the archbishop’s secretary, the assistant secretary, treasure-general, Maula Cathedral parish priest, diocesan meetings moderator, national pastoral secretary, a lecturer at the Catholic University in Kenya and his councilors.

Thereafter, Archbishop Ziyaye suspended Fr. Khisi in a letter of January 17, 2017. In the letter the Archbishop, relieved Fr. Khisi from active ministry saying the priest’s Chivunde document led to serious defamation of character to those mentioned and that this is contrary to Canon 220.

The Archbishop further said the document is promoting disunity among the laity and the clergy; that it expresses insults and contempt against the church hence violates the Church’s integrity and moral values.

“On Monday, October 17, 2016, you accepted before me the findings by the Criminal Investigations Department of the Malawi Police service that you authored and circulated a document entitled “Chivunde” of August 23, 2016. The document was sent to the Apostolic Nuncio and copied to different people including the Prefect for the Congregation of Bishops through e-mails and various forms of social media.

“Therefore, I hereby suspend you a divinis (indefinitely) until you have shown signs of repentance and reformation. This suspension is with immediate effect.

“It’s my prayer that with this penalty, scandal, injustice and damage that have been caused will be partially repaired and that the situation will be remedied”, wrote Archbishop Ziyaye to Fr. Khisi. The letter’s reference number is tgz/cal/sam/mk/170.

Eventually, Fr. Kisi appealed to the Vatican against Archbishop Ziyaye’s suspension, which did not yield any result as the Archbishop proceeded to suspend Khisi contrary to the Church Canon Law 1353, CIC 1983 which invalidates the suspension until a higher authority intervenes.

“I met you, when I was called to your office on January 17, 2017 and you served me with a letter of suspension from active ministry. Feeling such a judgement is severe, I exercised my canonical right to appeal (as per Canon 1628, CIC 1983) by filing an appeal from your judgment to His Eminence Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Prefect for the Congregation of the Clergy in Rome. I served you with a copy of this appeal.

“Knowing that an appeal or recourse against judgements, which you impose or declare any penalty has suspensive effect (as per Canon 1353, CIC 1983). I’m surprised that you repeatedly desire to send your officers to proceed with handovers in Madisi Parish. In the absence of a direction given by higher authority, so, far where the appeal has been filed, I submit this request for explanation for the continued pursuance of your judgement”, Fr. Khisi wrote to the Archbishop.

After notifying the Vatican of his superior’s actions, Fr. Khisi met with Archbishop Ziyaye and justified the accusations which later led to his suspended.

Consequently, on February 16 this year, the Archbishop’s advisors went to Madisi Parish with police officers to evict Fr. Khisi out of the parish house after making handovers.

This caused havoc amongst parishioners last week during Sunday services who were demanding explanations as to why their priest was sent home.

Both Lilongwe Archdiocese Vicar-General Fr. Francis Sonkhani, and Communication Director Gabriel Jana, refused to comment on the matter saying church matters could not be discussed in the media

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