Stigmata saga drama
The saga at Falelatai over a young woman, Toa Opapo Patrick, who claims to be carrying the marks of Jesus Christ’s suffering, has taken another twist.
This time, the Samoa Observer has been told that whereas the Elders of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) have stood by their decision to strip the pastoral role off Reverend Opapo Soanai, paramount chief, Misa Iuli Anae, has been banned for standing up against the Elders Committee.
The developments unfolded during the weekend when the constituency met on Saturday and Sunday to discuss the issue.
It was not possible to get an official comment from either the Church or Falelatai yesterday.
Repeated attempts to get a comment from the Church were unsuccessful. The Samoa Observer was told members of the Elders Committee are in American Samoa.
Approached for a comment, Misa Anae Pita, from Matautu, confirmed the decision against him.
“I have been told that I have been banned from the village, Matautu Falelatai, but I am not aware of why they are doing such a thing,” Misa said.
“I am the leader of the village and I don’t know the main reason why. I heard they were talking about it yesterday.”
Misa said he was at the village on Sunday but he left soon after the church service.
“So I can’t really say much about this matter because I don’t really understand,” he said. “I am aware that they made a decision about it and I heard there were Police officers there as well.”
Misa added that someone can only be removed from the village if they do anything wrong.
“Right now, I can’t say much about what happened. We might have another meeting and maybe then, I will be able to understand why such a decision was made.”
At Siufaga yesterday, no one would speak to the Samoa Observer on the record. Most of the high chiefs said the matter was an extremely sensitive one.
The decision against Rev. Opapo was confirmed by an Elder of the Siufaga Falelatai parish who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“He is no longer a faifeau (church minister),” said the Elder. “That’s the decision from the Elders Committee, and we (the village) can’t oppose that. If that’s their decision then we can’t do anything about it.”
Yesterday, Reverend Soana’i told the Samoa Observer he has not been officially informed about the Elders’ decision.
“I’ve heard rumors about it but I haven’t been officially informed,” he said.
“You might need to ask the elders about their decision. They can tell you the details of the decision they made.”
Reverend Opapo is the father of the woman who claims to be carrying the marks of Jesus Christ’s suffering, Toaipuapuaga Patrick.
He said there would be a press conference tomorrow where he will address all the issues.
“Toa is expected to arrive next week,” he said. “As you know what happened to my daughter is the main reason why all of these things are happening right now.
“So we will talk more about it when she comes.”
Soana’i was asked by elders to step down in the beginning of the year, because of the statues to Mary and Jesus, which were inside their church.
At the time, Rev. Soanai questioned the decision made by the Elders.
“They’re giving me conflicting reasons,” Rev. Soana’i said.
“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.
“I don’t mind if they strip me off my roles and responsibilities. But they cannot stop me from talking about the truth. If I lose my duties and appointments because of the statue of Mary and Jesus, I’d be very happy (because I stood for something I believe in).”
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.
Rev. Soana’i protested his innocence saying he has done nothing wrong.
“There is no clause of the Church Constitution that I have violated. I was initially reluctant to talk about this but it’s because I now have two conflicting stories about what they’ve done to me that I want to know the truth.”
Asked if his daughter’s decision to convert to Catholicism has anything to do with what has happened, Rev. Soana’i said he has always respected the church he took an oath to serve.
“The truth is I have the utmost respect for the Elders Committee. For your information, when they stopped me on 28th August from helping my daughter asking that I let her go on her own, I obeyed because I respected them."
“Up until now, there were seven revelations in Rome, and three this year, I haven’t spoken about anything. The first message in Rome was about the Chairman of the Church but I haven’t said anything. I cannot discuss that with you. We will wait until Toa returns, you will find out eventually everything that happened in Rome.”
Rev. Soanai said the decision by the church has taken him by surprise, especially after a meeting he had with representatives of the Matagaluega Aana, Lefaga, Alofi and Manono on 4 January 2017 where he was assured that nothing would happen to him.
“I’ve been mistreated for something I’m not sure of what it is.”
Told that perhaps the leadership of the church is unhappy about the emphasis on the statues of Mary and Jesus placed in their church since his daughter started to receive messages, Rev. Soana’i said that could possibly be the case.
But they cannot stand him down for something like that.
“I haven’t done anything wrong. I haven’t committed adultery, I haven’t used any of the church’s money and I haven’t been caught drunk.
In the Church Constitution, there is nothing in there against statues of Mary and Jesus.
“If you look at all the churches, there are images of Jesus and Mary everywhere. Those are statues too.”
Rev. Soana’i added that he did not acquire the statues himself.
“See, I didn’t get those statues myself. They were brought over as a present and our church membership are fearful to reject it because they are of Jesus and Mary. If it was of anything else, then they might’ve considered rejecting it.”
There is a history to the statues.
“When the statues were brought over, Toa received a message which said “if anyone rejects them, they will suffer forever…”
“So what we are saying is that if they want to remove it, they can come and do it themselves but we can’t because we received the translated message in Hebrew.
“This translation came from the Malua Theological College where the Hebrew language is taught.
“Our congregation will not stop anyone who wants to remove them but we are fearful because we are aware of what the translation of the message from the Hebrew language said.”
Last year, Rev. Soana’i’s daughter, Toaipuapua 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.
“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.
“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.”
Toa and her family are expected to return from Rome at the end of the month.