The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Priest Battles On to Return to His Parish

A COURT order which declared Roman Catholic Church priest Gert Petrus excommunicated from the church was void from the start, a judge of the High Court in Windhoek stated yesterday.

Because the court order which excommunicated Father Petrus from the Roman Catholic Church in May 2005 was void all along, there is no need to set that order aside, Acting Judge Kobus Miller said in a judgement in which Petrus's latest attempt to challenge his expulsion from his parish and residence in Khomasdal in Windhoek ended in failure.

Acting Judge Miller dismissed Petrus's application against the Roman Catholic Church and its head in Namibia, Archbishop Liborius Nashenda, with costs.

The issues which Petrus wanted the court to make an order on have already been decided by the High Court and also the Supreme Court, the judge found. The legal processes available to Petrus have been exhausted by him with the appeal which he took to the Supreme Court last year, and with the matter having been decided by that court, it is not open to Petrus to revisit the same issues in court, Acting Judge Miller said.

Petrus commented yesterday that he continues to feel deeply hurt and offended by the way he has been treated by the church, of which he has been a servant for decades.

He plans to now bring the matter under the attention of the Holy See's ambassador to Namibia, who is based in South Africa, Petrus said.

He said in his opinion he never received a proper hearing from the church before it was decided that he should be ejected from his parish residence in Khomasdal, and should be prohibited from continuing to conduct religious services at his parish church.

The church obtained the eviction order, as well as an excommunication order, against Petrus in the High Court after it had accused him of having been involved in practices related to witchcraft.

Petrus's problems with his church's leadership started in late 2004, when he claimed to have been the target of “witchcraft attacks” on himself.

According to Petrus, three objects of witchcraft were caught on the premises of his church, St Mary's Help of Christians Parish in Khomasdal, in October and November 2004.

Petrus has claimed that Zimbabwean exorcists managed to find an invisible demon in his parish residence. The demon became visible after some salt water had been sprinkled over it, and he then had it destroyed by having it thrown into a fire, Petrus claimed.

The church accused Petrus of believing he had been bewitched by certain of his parishioners.

When he acted to have forces of evil expelled from the church premises, he was trying to act against witchcraft, rather than participating in it, Petrus has stated.

With his latest application against the church and Archbishop Nashenda, Petrus wanted the court to declare all of the court judgements which had been made against him previously as being void. He also wanted the court to uplift the penalty of excommunication which had been declared over him, and to order that he be reinstated as parish priest in Khomasdal and that he may again live in the parish residence.

Petrus handled his application in person. Geoffrey Dicks, instructed by Ray Rukoro of LorentzAngula Inc, represented the church and the archbishop.

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