Father Edet: Quitting the Catholic priesthood is frowned upon, but this guy did it anyway
Should the former Reverend Father Patrick Henry Edet be criticised or congratulated for leaving the priesthood?
Reverend Father Patrick Henry Edet’s decision to leave the priesthood has left many stunned and disappointed.
Immediately the news broke, there were speculations that he left because of his connections to the protestant church, while others blamed it on his distinctive manner of ministry.
However, the former Rev. Edet's statement does not reflect any of these. According to him, the criticisms from the church’s hierarchy and his desire to please God are his reasons for leaving.
He said: “From today Henceforth, I cease to be a Catholic Priest in my spirit and in my soul.
“I forgive those who will criticize me. I live for God…I seek freedom for my soul. As I leave, I leave smiling, I AM SO HAPPY THAT I AM FREE.”
Along with this dramatic revelation, he also stated that he is now free to continue with his divine calling and wishes to still be addressed as ‘Reverend’.
He made his declaration during a live Radio Programme on Planet FM in Uyo, the capital of Akwa-Ibom, Naijachurchnews reports.
Daily Post reports that the radio announcement has been corroborated by Aniekeme Finbarr, the Special Assistant on Media to Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel with a post on Facebook.
It reads: “JUST IN: Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. Patrick Henry Edet has resigned from the catholic priesthood, quits the Catholic Church. He says he. And on a lighter note, he says he can still be called Fr.”
In an interview with Society Today News Crew, the newly resigned priest said that the resignation is the beginning of ‘freedom’ for his spirit and soul, which have been tied up.
He added that he needed to leave the Catholic doctrines in order to obey his spiritual inclinations and fully go into his own form of Christianity.
Pulse Nigeria reached out to a Knight of the order of Saint Mulumba and this is what he had to say.
He said: “He has broken the oath of celibacy he took & this is to save his face. There may be some element of mental problem. Greed for material wealth can draw him out.”
Fellow Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Akan Amos, has also weighed in on the issue.
Here is an excerpt from his statement:
“In religion, we often times infer that those who left a particular religion tend to accuse their former religion as lacking the divine attraction compared to their current religion…
In the Catholic church, those who leave for other denominations will always accuse the former as being in darkness and the current church as being their light. And they often end with this aged long statement, ‘I have seen light now. I no longer live in darkness. I am now living in freedom’…
But Catholic priesthood has her bond directly from God. From her origin with the hierarchical succession, Jesus exclaimed, ‘You’re Peter and on this rock, I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not overpower it’. The priesthood is a ‘forever thing’!”
He ended with this, “To be free- Free to do what? At this point, Jean Rousseau comes to mind. He says, “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One man thinks himself the master of others, but remains more of a slave than they are.”
I think there’s no absolute freedom for anyone. If there’s any, then it should be freedom to do the right thing, at the right place and in the right belief.
And I end with this…..”I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic church, the communion of saints…..I believe in One, Catholic and Apostolic church” I believe in the priesthood of Christ! Please, pray for your priest.”
Pulse Nigeria also reached out to a non-Catholic, who basically said that any priest should be able to leave when they want to.
In his words, “There are Catholic stipulations against a priest not being able to quit but if a priest wants to quit, he should. He may be excommunicated from the church but his decision to quit must be honoured. He is a human being, in his own right, the only place he shouldn’t be able to leave is the prison until he serves his time. It’s a divine calling, accepted! What if he isn’t allowed to quit and then commits suicide, then we all say nice words at his funeral. If he wants to quit priesthood, let him.”
As a born Catholic, I can understand why people are reacting like this to the dramatic resignation of former Edet.
While I can understand the human instinct and right to change one's mind on anything, it is important that we do not forget that the priesthood is no joke.
It is a divine vocation, that is not for people that are easily swayed but for those who can recognise and accept what it truly entails.
On the other hand, I guess it is better for him to leave before he dishonours the priesthood or violates the sacred oath of celibacy like others have done.
Like Rev. Amos rightfully said, the Catholic priesthood has been around for ever.
It is an institution that has been around for ages and it is not going anywhere soon, even with this father’s decision to leave.
I hope the case of former Father Edet can serve as a lesson for anyone that is interested in the priesthood.
Make sure you actually have a divine calling so that you can honour it for the rest of their lives.
For the record, there is no law that says that a priest can not change his mind, but it is still an oath that no one should take lightly.