Pope Raphael Adika of the Legio Maria African Church has addressed the rumors regarding his state of health that were swirling on social media.
Reports on social media had alluded that the pope had died while on a trip to Tanzania. He has however debunked the claims stating that he is alive and well, urging his supporters to ignore the claims.
“I am alive and well,” he said.
The pope further linked the rumors to have originated from his enemies whom he said harbored deep hate for him.
“You have all witnessed that I am alive but of course we have those who wish us well and bad. We have rebels in the church and of course, they can say anything. But I am happy I am alive,” he told journalists while taking a stroll at the St Peter’s Manyatta Legio Maria Church in Kisumu.
His sentiments were echoed by Archbishop Elias Komenya who said that dire consequences will be taken against those who started the propaganda.
“Those who claimed the Legio Maria pope had died will be investigated, charged with hate speech and incitement according to the law and also face disciplinary measures in accordance with the church’s constitution,” said Archbishop Komenya.
Last year, a fracas ensued in the Legio Maria church forcing the closure of the Holy Got Kwer Shrine in Migori County during the memorial of Legio Maria founder Pope Melkio Ondeto.
The two factions of Pope Adika and Pope Kalul were fighting to take control of the Shrine thus leading to the deaths of 5 people and several others injured.
The incident was said to have escalated after Pope Adika arrived at the holy hill with his followers from Amoyo, referred to as Jerusalem. They thus received a hostile reception from the followers of Pope Kalul hence their clash.
Pope Adika’s van was burned down and his convoy stoned forcing police officers to intervene and stop the violence.
The wrangles in Legio Maria have been attributed to leadership that has been going on for over 10 years thus leading to a division among the followers.
Following the death of Pope Romanus Ong’ombe, there has existed a fight on who is the legitimate successor between Popes Adika and Kalul.
The followers were thus divided with each believing their Pope is the true successor.