GOMBA- In his letter to the Church in Corinthians, St Paul in (1 Cor. 1:10) used strong expressions to caution his brothers against disunity among themselves which he warned would abuse the sanity of the faith.
Despite St Paul’s free guidance, his descendant, Anglican Church in the province of Uganda is troubled with rather a bigger challenge, in way of a sharp revolt between the clergy and the laity.
The Central Buganda Diocesan headquarters at Kasaka hill in Gomba District has of late been reduced into battle grounds of conflicts and open confrontations that have sharply divided Christians in the diocese which is expected to enjoy a brotherly relationship.
The notorious devil that has put the Central Buganda Diocese at crossroads has risen higher at a time when the diocese is preparing for the consecration of its new bishop on January 29; the third since it was annexed from West Buganda in 1995.
According to Mr Edward Kamya Kasozi, a member of the laity in the diocese, the latest hostilities are spillovers from the ‘controversial’ election of Rev Michael Lubowa, as the incoming bishop to replace Rev Jackson Matovu whose term of office expired in December, after serving for 16 years.
Procedurally, the election of bishops in the Anglican Church is a thorough and secretive process that begins at the diocesan synod, whose trusted members look into a list of many proposed candidates to nominate only two names, from which the House of Bishops eventually chooses the best nominee after a clear scrutiny.
It is after this process that the bishops’ conference last August is said to have considered Canon Lubowa, a son of the pioneer and retired bishop of the same diocese, George Ssennabulya, which a section of Christians objected to.
This group accuse Bishop Matovu of having made deliberate procedural flaws to influence the election of Rev Lubowa, a son of a retired comrade, allegations he denies.
“All those allegations labelled against me are false. My role in the election process was strictly guidance which I only offered on request by the nominations committee, and I made sure that all I did would first formally be approved by the provincial secretary to avoid suspicions,” he said during a recent diocesan crisis meeting he convened at St John Cathedral in Kasaka.
Mr Kasozi blames the current bickering in the diocese on the unbecoming dishonesty tendencies exhibited by some priests, hence the breach of public trust.
Apparently, the warring parties do not find it unusual to engage in their bitter quarrels inside the cathedral, up to the extent of grabbing each other’s collar before the altar.
Recently, Kasozi led a section of 300 angry Christians opposing the incoming bishop’s election, and petitioned Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, seeking to nullify the election which they believe was irregular.
In the petition, the aggrieved Christians listed 25 grounds upon which they asked the archbishop to cancel Rev Lubowa’s selection and demanded for fresh elections. The group also vowed to go to court if the archbishop declines to consider their petition.
In the petition, the Christians also accused Bishop Matovu of ‘abusing’ the sacredness of the nomination process at the diocesan level when he allegedly sneaked Rev Lubowa’s name onto the nominees’ list, which had earlier been thrown out over financial dishonesty.
The disgruntled Christians also make other outrageous accusations against the bishop that include, among others, marital untrustworthiness that sets a bad example.
“These are problems parishioners had patiently endured, considering them to be individual shortcomings that would be rectified on his (Bishop Matovu) exit. But even after retirement, he (bishop) interfered with the free will of getting an independent and spotless replacement who can help the diocese recover from mistakes it is entangled into,” says Kasozi.
However, Harriet Nakintu, a member of the laity, argues that the bishop-elect is also laced with unforgettable financial scandals that caused losses to hundreds of Christians in the area, which makes him unfit for the office.