Church elders defer decision

The future of a Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S) Minister, who is the father of a woman who claims to be carrying the marks of Jesus Christ’s suffering, is to be determined next month.

Reverend Opapo Soana’i, who is looking after the Si’ufaga C.C.C.S. parish, had been stripped of his pastoral role by the Elders Committee.

However, the Chairman of the Elders Committee, Reverend Elder Tavita Anesone, told the Samoa Observer that a decision has been deferred until March.

He did not elaborate.

Last month, Rev. Opapo questioned the conflicting reasons offered by different officials of the church as to why he had been stood down.

 “They’re giving me conflicting reasons,” Rev. Soana’i said. 

“On Monday, Senara called to inform me that I had been stripped of all my duties. I asked him why and he said it’s because of the statues of Mary and Jesus inside our church.

“So our congregation has written to them. I will not leave because of this." 

“For your information, the Church’s Constitution dictates that if a Pastor sins, the Elder of the Pulega should summon him. If the sin is proven, then he should be summoned by the Elders of the Matagaluega and then eventually the Elders Committee.

 “In my case, this is the first case where I haven’t been summoned by the Pulega, or by the Matagaluega, not even the Elders Committee and yet I have been penalised. So our parish has written to them to express that the manner in which this decision has been made is unloving and communist-like.”

Rev. Soana’i said the second reason offered for his dismissal, as he was informed by the Secretary of the Elders Committee, is that he has disobeyed orders.

“So I asked, what order have I disobeyed? They said I was disobedient when I went to take my daughter to Rome. They said I should’ve just taken her there and come back right away.”

Rev. Soana’i denies that he had been disobedient.

“I told them I was going to be back after the 18th December which is what I did. I came back on the 20th but I got stuck in New Zealand when my flight was delayed. I was here before Christmas. I only found when I arrived that I had been relieved of my duties and that’s why we’ve written to them. We want to know why.”

Rev. Soana’i protested his innocence saying he has done nothing wrong.

Last year, Rev. Soana’i’s daughter, Toaipuapua Opapo Patrick, claimed to be carrying the marks of Jesus Christ’s suffering. Rev. Soanai has been a strong supporter of his daughter who has since converted to Catholicism. 

He accompanied her to Rome recently where her stigmata claims are being investigated.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer last year, Toa said converting to the Catholic faith is the only way she can continue her mission from God.

 “I am a messenger and I want to continue the work that I have been sent to do,” she said.

“I know the majority of the people misunderstand almost everything I say, they twist it. But being chosen by God as a messenger is something I did not ask for. He chooses whoever he wants as a messenger.” 

Toa said she could not wait for the leadership of the C.C.C.S to make up their minds about accepting her and most importantly the messages she was “receiving from God.”

 “We don’t have that much time to prepare and get things done because God gave us this mission to complete right on time,” she said. “So we don’t want to just sit around and wait for everyone to agree. We wanted to continue our mission and I feel this is the only way.” 

She added that while she continues to be fully supportive of her parents' work as Church Ministers of the C.C.C.S, some recent developments have left her with no choice but to become a Catholic.

“The elders of the church (C.C.C.S) are trying to stop us from spreading the messages and my father was instructed to distant himself from what’s going on with me,” she said. “He was told to remove the statues from inside the church.”

One of those statues, that of St. Mary, is now the subject of a Court case. A man has been accused to removing and damaging the statue.

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