Progressive parishioners at an Oregon parish pushed back at their conservative African immigrant priest for instituting changes at the parish, singing, “We shall overcome.”
Pastor George Kuforiji is a Nigerian immigrant who was ordained in 2015 and moved to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in South East Oregon in 2018, according to the Catholic News Agency. Kuforiji allegedly instituted a variety of changes to the progressive parish upon his arrival that sparked backlash among attendees, according to The Oregonian. (RELATED: Letters Suggest Vatican Imposed Lax Restrictions On McCarrick For Alleged Sex Abuse Since 2008)
A number of parishioners had reportedly attempted to make St. Francis of Assisi parish more inclusive by dropping words like “he,” “king,” and “lord” from the liturgy to describe God and instead use the words “God” and “creator” following the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s, parishioners told The Oregonian. The parish also added a “community commitment” after the Nicene Creed.
Kuforiji reportedly dropped the community commitment and reinstituted traditional language and liturgy. Parishioners Dianna Shaffer and Melody Ghormley told The Oregonian handmade vestments and a banner that said “Immigrants and Refugees Welcome” were missing after Kuforiji’s arrival and that Kuforiji told them he did not know what had happened.
Parishioners also said Kuforiij later told them he was sorry the vestmests were put in a trailer when they should have been packaged up. Archdiocese spokesman David Renshaw apologized for “oversight,” according to The Oregonian.
Some of the church-goers pushed back by protesting during a June 30 mass, carrying signs, shouting at the priest, and singing the hymn, “We Shall Overcome” — a song associated with the civil rights movement — while Kuforiji attempted to continue saying mass, according to a video The Oregonian posted Aug. 11.
The parishioners reportedly resisted Kuforiji’s changes by passing out instruments in the pews and standing when they were told to kneel, according to The Oregonian.
As of Sunday mass Aug. 11, most of the progressive parishioners had left the church, The Oregonian reported.
Kuforiji led a mass conducted quietly without maracas, tambourines, clapping or community commitment, parishioner Tom Hogan told The Oregonian, and only Hogan and five other parishioners stood up while the rest of the parish knelt.
St. Francis of Assisi Parish and the Vatican did not respond to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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