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Thursday, 3 November 2016

Break away Catholic Ugandan Sub-Cult ordains Priests

Before the charismatic Rev Fr Jacinto Kibuuka was suspended by Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga in July, little was known about the Antiochian rite of the Catholic Church.
Now, this branch of Catholicism is gaining a foothold in Uganda, riding on the influence of priests that have fallen out with their bishops in the mainstream Roman Catholic Church.
On Saturday, this group of ‘rebel priests’, notably Kibuuka, Fr Deogratius Ssonko, Fr Vincent Byansi and Fr Bruno Muhindo joined Dr Tom Sibayirwa Kiiza, the presiding bishop of the Antiochian rite in Uganda, to ordain two new priests. The newly-ordained priests; Sylvester Rwakaikara Adyeeri and Joseph Nkumbya Birungi had remained at the rank of Deacon for several years, with their bishops reluctant to elevate them to priesthood.
The ordination ceremony took place at Mubende High School, located a few kilometres outside Mubende town. Until the Saturday event, the school fell under the jurisdiction of Kiyinda - Mityana Catholic diocese where Rwakaikara, its proprietor, held church responsibilities.

Father Kibuuka (L) with some of the newly-ordained priests and the Antioch leadership

On the eve of the ordination, the bishop of Kiyinda-Mityana, Anthony Zziwa, visited a nearby church, St Kizito sub-parish Namagongo, and cautioned Catholics against associating with the breakaway group. The school is now the seat of the Evangelical Orthodox Church (branch of Catholicism that follows the Antiochian rite).

LITURGY
Bishop Zziwa’s threat to deny sacraments to Christians seen at the event appears to have impacted on the turnout. By 10am, the scheduled time for the service, a handful of people had gathered at the venue. Others stood outside the school gate, looking on with curiosity. But people started gathering in numbers after identifying some of the nuns.
Confused locals could be heard debating whether the name Evangelical Orthodox Church suggested this “new religion” was associated with the Namungoona-based Uganda Orthodox Church. However, after the mass began, it became clear that the vestments, order of mass and other liturgical practices are not different from the practices of the Roman Catholic Church.
According to Fr Kibuuka, one of the key differences lies in the fact that the Antiochs don’t block anyone from taking holy communion so long as they are baptized Christians.
“We don’t discriminate; we don’t have it that the body and blood of Jesus is for only Catholics who meet certain conditions,” Kibuuka said.
“So long as one is a baptized Christian, whether a Catholic, Anglican or Pentecostal, they can receive holy communion, and the confession of sins we make at the beginning of mass is enough,” Kibuuka told the congregation at Mubende.
In this rite, priests are also allowed to marry.
“It is biblical to be married more than it is not to be married. Celibacy is a discipline that is only in the Roman rite...not marrying is not what makes a priest, but it is the calling from God,” Bishop Kiiza said.
Kiiza has been married to Reena Daurave since 2009. The rite also preaches against consumption of alcohol.

NOT JUDGES
In his homily, Fr Kibuuka took time castigating his former bosses in the Roman Catholic Church whom he accused of persecuting some priests under their care.
“Many, including myself, have been innocently accused to the extent of concocting cases against us but we are grateful that Bishop Kiiza welcomed us, and counseled us,” Kibuuka said.
He ruled out the possibility of the break-away priests going back to the mainstream Catholic Church, telling the church leaders to repent instead of praying for their (rebel priests) return.
“They should repent for their evil acts, it is easy to dress as a priest but act differently. Holding a high priestly office is not enough when you have a bad heart and engaging in evil acts,” Kibuuka said.
“A priest should not be vindictive, a priest should encourage and give comfort to his flock other than harassing them and stealing from them,” he added.
Kibuuka accused Archbishop Lwanga of turning himself into a judge who determines the true believers.
“One of the 14 charges that were brought against me was that I was praying for non-Catholics. But who am I to judge anyone? Am I the one who created the Muslims, Anglicans and all the others? If Jesus prayed for the Pharisees and Gentiles, who are you to tell me not to pray for the non-Catholics?” Kibuuka said.
“We are one holy Catholic and apostolic church, we have the same sacraments, the only difference we have is that there is no discrimination here. If they deny you any sacraments, here we will administer them. If they refuse to pray for your dead, we will because it is not our duty to judge anyone,” Kibuuka said.
The two priests who were ordained went through Katigondo and Kinyamasika major seminaries but their journey to priesthood had stalled at the level of deacons, which is the last step. Rwakaikara had given up hope and eventually got married but remained committed to the church, while Birungi remained hopeful.
Fr Ssonko, formerly a lecturer at Ggaba National Major Seminary, presented the two deacons for ordination.
“After nine years of suffering and pain for no reason, I am happy to declare Rev Fr Joseph Birungi a duly-ordained priest of the Evangelical Orthodox Church,” Bishop Kiiza announced amid ululations.
Fr Ssonko was in turn declared bishop-elect during the event. Fr Kibuuka, a former confidant of Archbishop Lwanga, broke ranks in July after the two parties failed to agree on how to conduct his popular exorcism activities.


Bishop Tom Kiiza

Until last Saturday, October 29, little was known of the head of the Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC), a splinter group from the Roman Catholic Church that follows the Eastern (Antiochian) rite of Catholicism.
In fact many adherents of the Antiochian rite did not know who their presiding bishop was. All they knew was Rev Fr Jacinto Kibuuka, who fell out with Kampala Archbishop Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga over his charismatic preaching.
Born on December 5, 1976 at Bweera in Kasese, Dr Tom Sibayirwa Kiiza is the pioneer bishop of the EOC in Uganda but with churches under his jurisdiction in Benue state, Nigeria and Texas, USA.
He attended primary school at Kamukumbi in Kasese between 1983 and 1990. In 1991, aspiring to become a Catholic priest, Kiiza enrolled at St Mary’s Seminary Virika in Fort Portal until August 1999 when he joined the Consolanta Missionaries. They took him to their Kenyan seminary for further formation studies, graduating in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Religious Studies.
He was then posted to Mozambique for pastoral work for a year, giving him opportunity to travel to Portugal and South Africa. In 2003, he went back to Kenya and joined the Catholic University of East Africa (CUEA) for a Master of Arts degree in Theology, graduating in 2007.
“That is when I crossed to EOC because my mind and conscience told me I wouldn’t be happy under the Roman Catholic Church; so, I wrote a letter requesting to be allowed to leave, and I was allowed,” Kiiza told The Observer. “I was never suspended. I left on my own and once they accepted my request to leave, I was let free to serve God in any church.”
In 2008, he enrolled for a joint Master’s and doctoral program in Religious Studies and Theology at St James Seminary Florida, USA, which is operated by the Holy Catholic Church International, and an affiliate of Dayspring Christian University.
He got his PhD in 2011 two years after his consecration as bishop of EOU at a low-key function held at a hotel in Namugongo near Kampala.
“I was ordained on September 17, 2009 by Archbishop Rodney P Rickard. In fact it is that day that we consider as the birth of EOC in Uganda,” Kiiza said.
Despite being a bishop of a faction of the Catholic Church, he got a teaching job at CUEA in 2011 until 2013 when Mountains of the Moon University, Fort Portal, hired him as academic registrar.
“I am also in community development running an NGO, Ekisande Rural Development Centre in Kasese. I also run a number of schools, health centres and orphanage support programs,” Kiiza said.
Kiiza is married to Reena Daurave from Kerala, India.