The Anglican priest at the centre of the heavily condemned kissing episode at the St. Monica’s College of Education has indefinitely been relieved of his duties at the school.
Rev. Father Balthazar Obeng Larbi, the Chaplain and lawyer of the all-female teacher trainee institution was seen in a viral video fully dressed in his cassock, force-kissing three students in turns, in the full glare of a cheering audience.
In one instance, he was seen gesturing to one of the girls, who appeared very uncomfortable with the move, to take off her face mask before holding her head and giving her a kiss on the lips.
But at a crunch meeting by school authorities, management resolved that the Rev. Fr. Obeng Larbi can longer hold his positions following the misconduct, according to Citi News sources.
This decision comes amidst widespread calls among members of the public and civil society groups that the priest must be sanctioned.
“Since the incident happened, management has been having series of engagements. Management met and took some decisions. We have met convocation, and we have met students at various interaction level. Management also wants to add their voice to exactly what the church has said that the necessary investigations into the matter.”
“I think one that I want everyone to be aware of is that, by the directive of the church, the Bishop has directed that the said Rev. Father should be relieved off all his clerical and pastoral services from the school whilst the investigation is ongoing”, Acting Principal for St. Monica’s College of Education, Dr. Okyere Korankye stated.
The viral video, shot by someone in the audience, has generated outright condemnation on social media, although a few people have jumped to the Reverend father’s defence, describing his action as a ‘holy kiss’.
However, the Anglican Church of Ghana, which runs the St. Monica’s College of Education, has expressed its aversion to the incident, maintaining that it has begun its own internal investigation into the matter.
Petition over incident
In the meantime, the Africa Education Watch has petitioned the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) to probe what it refers to as an alleged case of misconduct and blatant breach of COVID-19 protocols at the St. Monica’s College of Education of the Asante-Mampong Diocese in the Ashanti Region.
The education think tank in a statement said, “we refer to an earlier forwarded viral video alleged to contain disturbing scenes from St Monica’s College of Education, in which one Father Balthazar Obeng Larbi is allegedly forcibly kissing some students under the guise of a religious ritual.”
It argued that the alleged act is in blatant disregard of established COVID-19 protocols and the perpetrator should have rather enforced adherence to COVID protocols.
“We are by this letter petitioning your office to conduct an external investigation into the conduct of Father Balthazar Obeng Larbi and sanction appropriately while pronouncing on whether or not the practice of kissing students in public is acceptable conduct in a tertiary institution.”