Friday, 14 October 2016

Is God De-voodoolising the witchcraft of the Catholic Church in Uganda?? More Catholic priests rebel against Archbishop Lwanga: Gunfire at Ediofe cathedral, Christians attack bishop’s home

Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga

The Roman Catholic Church in Uganda is facing a tough test as more priests walk away from the mainstream, threatening the harmony and discipline it has always been associated with.
At Lubaga, the seat of Kampala Archdiocese, there are fears that the growing resentment among priests towards Archbishop Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga’s leadership could lead to an Arua-like scenario.
A source at Lubaga told The Observer on Friday that the number of disenchanted priests has grown over what they call the archbishop’s high-handedness.
“What happened in Arua is not far from happening at Lubaga because of the way the archdiocese is being managed,” the source said.
On September 22, a combined force of regular and military police fought running battles with angry Christians at Ediofe cathedral in Arua. The Christians who converged overnight wanted to evict the Arua diocesan bishop Sabino Ocan Odoki who they accuse of mismanaging the diocesan affairs.
Bishop Odoki too has a trail of bad relations with priests under him. Some rebel priests in Kampala archdiocese have chosen to take a low profile while others have defected and joined charismatic preacher Fr Jacinto Kibuuka, who was suspended from the Catholic Church in July.
Notable among the defectors is Fr Dr Vincent Kibuuka Byansi, who previously headed Caritas Kampala, a church organisation involved in socio-economic development activities. Others are Fr Deogratius Ssonko and Fr Anthony Ssewanyana.
Byansi, Ssonko and Ssewanyana are openly working with Kibuuka at his Mamre ministries, which subscribes to the Antiochian (Eastern) rite of the Catholic Church as opposed to the Western rite to which the Roman Catholic Church subscribes.
On September 22, Byansi, Ssonko and Ssewanyana escorted Fr Kibuuka to Kibuku district where he opened his first upcountry prayer centre at Kagumu. The session drew thousands of people and galvanized Fr Kibuuka’s following.
Byansi’s defection shocked many at Lubaga because he was known to be close to Lwanga. The two worked together in Kasana-Luweero diocese before Lwanga was appointed Kampala archbishop. Speaking to The Observer on Saturday, Byansi accused Lwanga of misusing his powers under the church’s canon law.
“The major weakness of the code of canon law is giving too much power to a bishop and when a bishop misuses such power, it causes problems like what we saw in Arua,” Fr Byansi said. 
“When talking about dictators, we should not only talk about African presidents but also leaders in other institutions and organizations; this is what the archbishop has become, and that is why he is taking decisions that can be bad for the church,” Fr Byansi added.

A cross section of Christians that turned up for the launch of Fr Kibuuka’s (circled) centre at Kagumu, Kibuku district

Byansi disagreed with Lwanga over the suspension of his colleague, Fr Kibuuka. He told The Observer that before Lwanga announced Kibuuka’s suspension from all priestly duties, he (Byansi) had been pushing for dialogue.
“The decision [to suspend Fr Kibuuka] was influenced by a small clique around the archbishop, which we didn’t agree with because we believed that this matter could have been resolved through dialogue,” Byansi said.

Interviewed on Saturday, the chancellor of Kampala archdiocese, Rev Fr Joseph Mary Ssebunya, said the archdiocesan leadership was not aware of priests joining Fr Kibuuka.
“We don’t have that information because they have not officially communicated to us, but the church is not a prison; it is a pity [that they have left] but we pray for them that at some time they will come back,” Ssebunya said.
He prayed that what transpired in Arua does not come to Kampala.
“The church wants peace and wouldn’t want to see a repeat of that (Arua protests)…if it happens, it will of course be unchristian because that is not what the church preaches,” Ssebunya added.
Apart from his leadership changes that left some priests not impressed, Archbishop Lwanga is also accused of frustrating independent-minded priests. Some priests are reportedly unhappy with the new policy that requires those who receive donations from their foreign benefactors to remit at least 15 per cent to the church.
According to the source, some foreign benefactors, unhappy with the policy, have decided to keep their donations, leaving many priests broke.
“Besides, the archbishop wants all [bank] accounts for schools, hospitals and all projects to be centralized and put under his watch,” our source said.
To stamp out dissent, Archbishop Lwanga has been making changes, replacing priests he suspects to be disobedient.
“There is a feeling among priests that some priests were posted to ‘juicy’ parishes while those that are seen to be disloyal were sent to poor parishes,” said the source.
Among the appointments that raised suspicion was that of Monsignor Lawrence Ssemusu Lugoloobi, who has been elevated to second vicar general responsible for shrines, worship and priests.
He has been the episcopal vicar for education and also the moderator of the archdiocesan curia (top officials of the archdiocese). Some insiders saw this appointment as a step towards quashing the charismatic movement within the church.
With more priests joining him, Fr Kibuuka has embarked on expanding his ministry. Kibuuka is reportedly planning to open another centre in Kasese soon.

Police was today forced to fire bullets in air and teargas at an angry mob that attempted to raid the home of Rt Rev Sabino Ocan Odoki, the Bishop of Arua diocese near Ediofe cathedral.

The mob accuses Bishop Odoki of ‘neglecting’ the late Bishop Fredrick Drandua, who succumbed to high blood pressure and diabetes on September 1. The chaos is said to have started yesterday evening when police moved in to arrest Christians who were ‘guarding’ the grave of the late Bishop Fredrick Drandua and calling for the transfer of Bishop Odoki.

James Okuni, a parishioner of Ediofe parish, says police arrested over 16 suspects, prompting Christians to ring the church bells - attracting even more angry people.
As a result, the residents moved in and smashed the windowpanes of the parish block, burnt documents and destroyed the temporary prayer structure as the cathedral is still under renovation.

They tried to raid the bishop's house, prompting military and police guards to open fire leading to running battles.  Currently, more officers from the police and army have deployed at the cathedral to contain the situation.

Some of the destroyed properties at the parish. Photo: @PMLiveRadio 

In the morning, a group of Christians armed with placards calling for the removal of Bishop of Odoki attempted to march to Arua central police station to demand the unconditional release of their colleagues in police custody but were blocked by the army and police.

Monsignor Casto Adetmi, the Ediofe parish priest has called for dialogue with the warring parties to address their concerns.
“Of course we were all in the same compound with the bishop. We shall also see how we can relate this to the general security of the place of Ediofe. Certainly, we shall do something. As I said, we are still yet to meet and see what we can do. Right now there is a lot of insecurity, it is also difficult for people to come in. So we wait for this situation quell first. Of course we are open to dialogue, that is the mature way of solving problems, to listen to all sides of the problem and try to solve. But we are not encouraging mob action because with mob, it is very difficult to dialogue”, Adetmi said.

Haji Ibrahim Saiga, the West Nile regional police commander and Arua district police commander, Jonathan Musinguzu declined to comment on the attack, saying are still busy coordinating the operations to protect church property from further destruction.

Today's chaos, comes a few days after Saiga penned a letter to the inspector general of police, Kale Kayihura saying there is need for the Vatican and Catholic church in Uganda to move Bishop Odoki from the diocese given the rising hostility towards him. 

He also asked the authorities to neutralize Martin Andua, the leader of the group opposed to the Bishop if the tension in the diocese is to be addressed. According to police reports, Kayihura flew to Arua today morning in a bid to quell the tensions.