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Nigeria Masterweb News Report
    Sunday, July 8, 2001

    Catholic Priest Fathers Four Children

    By Dickson Adeyanju

    Religious Affairs Correspondent, The Guardian Newspaper

    CATHOLIC priests are celibates. But once in a while, there are hushed rumours of some of them having affairs. Here in Nigeria, there is the case of one of the priest who has been confirmed as not only having an affair but has actually fathered four children.

    The priest is Rev. Fr. Rufus Pariola, of the Ekiti diocese of the church.

    Currently on an indefinite suspension, Father had all the children from one woman. .Although one of the children is said to have died, the other three are alive. The youngest of them is a 17-year old girl.

    Father Pariola who is in his seventies may however find it difficult to return to active priesthood as he is expected to retire after attaining 75 years as stipulated by the canon law of the church.

    The bishop of Ekiti diocese of the church, Most Rev. Michael Fagun who confirmed the development to The Guardian On Sunday in Ado-Ekiti, said it took him four months to investigate and establish the facts of the matter. He said celibacy is voluntary but anyone who decided to enter into it must take the vow very seriously.

    He explained: "We in the Catholic Church, we have our principles of operation and the Catholic Church, right from the third century, made regulations. Those who will be leaders in the church are expected to make the sacrifice of being celibate. And so it became a law in the ninth century that any priest of the Catholic Church must be a celibate and if you are not ready to accept it, you leave it. Fr. Pariola is one of our priests, ordained and he worked in Ekiti diocese. Unfortunately, we discovered he was not following this principle and that is why we suspended him."

    Also in conformity with the church’s regulations, Fr. Pariola has been moved out of his diocese to a secluded place in another diocese.

    Accordingly, the bishop of Ondo diocese, Most Rev. Francis Alonge agreed to take Pariola and placed him in a preaching station in a town, aboiut 30 killometres from Akure. There, he is expected to continue his penance until the people of his diocese whom Fagun said feel scandalised, decide to accept him back.

    The woman who had the children for him resides in Ibadan, while some of the children are in school in Lagos.

    Fr. Pariola hails from Efon-Alaye in Ondo State.

    Bishop Fagun said the church has no responsibility towards the children, saying "the children are very innocent. The parents are guilty, both father and mother. They are both criminals as far as the church is concerned and compensation or what I will say is that arrangements should be made to see that the children don’t suffer." He also described Fr. Pariola conduct as appalling.

    "It was like a thunderbolt. I wasn‘t expecting it and never suspected it and he being an elder in this area, he was somebody we all looked up to. So it was devastating and no one was not shocked among us. But it was a sorry incident. Again we are all human", Fagun said even as he described the priest as a hardworking.

    A priest who specialised in Canon law who spoke to The Guardian On Sunday about the incident said, no further sanction would be taking against Fr. Pariola since he is not legally married to the woman.

    "When we talk of this thing is like talking of infidelity in a marriage. What sanction can really be imposed on you by your wife or your parents? Since the priest involved did not take the woman as his lawful wife, the only sanction that can be imposed on him is what he is presently facing that is, all his priestly functions are taken away from him as he undergoes the penance. He will go through it, seeking God’s face in repentance until such a time when his people in his diocese agree that his sins are over".

    "You see, in our vocation, it is a very serious offence to deliberately contravene the celibacy law because you voluntarily go into it. So no matter how close you are to your bishop, it is such a serious offence, sufficient enough for him to disown him," the priest added.

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