Reverend Opapo with his daughter Toa and husband Patrick in a public meeting with Pope Francis in Rome
BY Lance Polu
APIA, SAMOA – WEDNESDAY 22 MARCH 2017: The father of the Samoan woman with the stigmata occurrence since Easter last year, has clarified that no public funds were ever used to fund his and his daughters much talked about trip to Rome.
Reverend Opapo who declared today that he was stepping down as a church minister at the end of April to serve as a matai of his family, said critics views about how the trip was funded were all speculation and the criticisms should have been verified before publications as they were defamatory and simply untrue.
He said the funds for the trip came from individuals, businesses, donors, relatives and the church at Siufaga, Falelatai who believed the manifestation.
He said this was why there was a drop in the Siufaga church annual donations – taulaga last year as church members preferred to donate to the trip as they believed the visions were signs and messages from God.
He said that the final payments for the airfares will be made this week.
He also acknowledged the major contribution made by Samoa’s Consul General in Rome, Papali’i John and wife Margi Cafarelli “who we owe a lot for our board and upkeep as well as the Catholic fathers and nuns in Rome.
Bitter criticisms were directed at his daughter Toaipuapuaga when it became public knowledge that she had given birth to a baby daughter while in Rome.
Directing his response to the critics, Opapo said there was a message from God on 28 September 2016 that was written in Hebrew and translated by the lecturers at the Malua Theological College that said in part, “Go to Rome and wait to respond to the Vatican, leave on the month I gave specifically to allow another soul to a given womb.”
Another message of 28 August 2016 of the trip to Rome also said “Your father will join you and your husband to the trip as he will be needed.”
Opapo also rejected newspaper claims that it was he and his daughter that had caused so much dissention in the village and the banishment of high chiefs in the village and district.
He said the Chairman of the Church Reverend Elder Tautiaga Senara who has authority over Opapo, is the cause of the friction and the stripping of his duties and the resulting banishment of high chiefs of the village.
Opapo said The Chairman, Tautiaga who is the Elder for the Falelatai parish did approve of his going to accompany his daughter to Rome and he was surprised on his return in late December to find reports that he has been stripped of his ministerial roles.
While these reports have been circulating for three months and resulting friction, the traditional apology – ifoga and banishment of village chiefs for backing him to remain as minister, the Church Elders Committee written decision was only delivered yesterday.
It instructs Reverend Opapo to end the agreement with the village church as their minister and that he has been stripped of his pastoral duties for disobedience and displaying the statutes of Mary and Jesus inside the village church. There was no term given which in Samoan terms soloa ile aufuefue means banished forever.