Pope’s death ends Legio Maria church leadership wrangle
Legio Maria Pope Romanus Ong’ombe has died ending a longstanding leadership wrangle at the indigenous church.
Ong’ombe passed on Sunday night at the Got Kweru center in Migori county, a holy hill the sect believe is Calvary and where their found Melkio Ondetto, was buried in 1990s.
Ong’ombe’s demise was confirmed by the church top leadership led by Joseph Warambo, chairman of the sect.
Warambo said the pope will be buried at Got Kweru within a week once plans are finalized.
“The pope’s body is at St. Joseph Mission Hospital in Migori town as preparation for his burial is ongoing. We will announce the exact date once we set out our plans,” he said, adding that his (Ong’ombe’s) deputy will take over immediately.
Following his death, several church faithful wearing traditional clothes lit candles and prayed in churches, homes and holy sites.
Ong’ombe, declared himself a Pope after death of Ondetto sparking off protracted court battle and fight with his opponent Raphael Adika, who established his headquarters in Kisumu town.
The church has for the last 10 years been embroiled in leadership wrangles which saw two parallel factions emerge; one led by Pope Ong’ombe, headquartered at Got Kweru in Migori County, and the other led by Pope Adika who is based in Kisumu.
During the period each of the two popes had their teams and structures of leadership.
Adika had also declared himself as the church Pope claiming he was the one tasked with responsibilities.
However last year, the two clergymen announced that they had reached a truce in a church service in Migori County.
Ong’ombe reached his rival Adika in the ‘handshake’ which was meant to have them work together.
The move was however opposed by factions of the church faithful who distanced themselves from the truce between Pope Ong’ombe and Pope Adika.
A section of the church’s top leadership allied to Pope Ong’ombe accused him of throwing believers into confusion.
The church was founded by Papa Mesiah Ondeto in 1960s, who worked with both Ong’ombe and Adika, before he died in 1990s.
Later, leadership tussle between the two clergies plunged the church into division as each claimed the throne.
Before then, Adika was one of the assistant popes while Ong’ombe was then the Cardinal prayer.