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Acholi Clerics Reconcile, to Hold Joint Way of the Cross

The resolution was arrived at during a crisis meeting convened by the governing council of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative ARLPI chaired by Archbishop John Baptist Odama. The intent was to reconcile members of the Catholic and the Anglican Church.
Bishop Johnson Gakumba (L) and Archbishop John Baptist Odama Saying Prayers of Forgiveness For Rev. Father Charles Onen after the Reconciliation

Audio 5

Religious denominations in Gulu have resolved to bury the hatchet following weeks of bickering between leaders from various Churches in the district.

The resolution was arrived at during a crisis meeting convened by the governing council of Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative (ARLPI) chaired by Archbishop John Baptist Odama. The intent was to reconcile members of the Catholic and the Anglican Church.

Animosity between the two Christian denominations was sparked off by the holy Homily delivered by Father Charles Onen, the curate of Holy Rosary Catholic Parish in Gulu Town. Father Onen, accused Johnson Gakumba, the Bishop of the diocese of Northern Uganda of burning rosaries among other articles of worship of the Catholic Church during a crusade convened by the born-again fraternity in Gulu district in February.

Bishop Onen asked Catholic faithful's to shun the annual Way of the Cross celebrations, a procession which is used to simulate Jesus Christ's final steps. The events held on Good Friday, commemorating the first Way of the Cross that Jesus went through.

But the governing council of Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative announced reconciliation between the two churches this evening after a meeting that lasted more than an hour at the seat of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative in Koro Sub County in Omoro district.

They said they can't allow such bickering to destroy the unity they have enjoyed over the years.

Archbishop John Baptist Odama, the chairperson of the governing council of Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative read a joint statement saying churches under the umbrella organization will host a joint way of the Cross on Good Friday, March 30. Archbishop Odama said their decision follows an earlier decision of March 9, in which Bishop Johnson Gakumba reconciled with Father Charles Onen. 

 

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The governing council regretted the utterances of the priest saying it was unfortunate. He said all affected sides had forgiven each other.

 

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According to the council, the Church is committed to resolving such unfortunate utterances through mediation.

 

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Bishop Johnson Gakumba acknowledged that reconciliation has taken place and that the Anglican Church is willing to participate in the joint way of the cross and other ecumenical activities.

The governing council members who attended the crisis meeting include retired bishop of Kitgum diocese MacLeod Baker Ochola II, retired Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Uganda Nelson Onono Onweng, the Khadi of Acholi Muslim district Al-Hajji Sheik Musa Khalil and the Vicar General of Gulu Archdiocese Monsignor Mathew Odongo.

Others included Rev. Father Julius Orach, ARLPI Program Manager Francis Lukwiya amongst others.

The Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) is an interfaith peacebuilding and conflict transformation organization formed in 1997 as a proactive response to the conflict in Northern Uganda. It brings together leaders of six different religious sects and denominations namely Anglican, Catholic, Muslim, Orthodox, Pentecostal and the Seventh Day Adventist.