Archbishop Emmanuel Obbo of Tororo Archdiocese has come under spotlight for allegedly abusing the Canon Law after he refused the body of a dead priest to be buried within the diocese.
Obbo, who is currently on official visit in Malawi, reportedly directed that the body of the late Reverend Father Peter Kasooli Bwayo should not be buried anywhere in any of the missions under the Archdiocese as required by the canon law.
Canon law is the body of laws and regulations made by or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. Canon is derived from the Greek kanon, a rule or practical direction.
Under Canon 111, every cleric/priest must belong either to some diocese or to some religious community. This means that church, diocese or community is responsible for the priest and that vagrant clerics are not at all recognized. In their formative years, all clerics are incardinated, a process of attaching them to a community, diocese or congregation. It is in these communities that they are buried when they die.
Fr. Bwayo, who was working as a chaplain at St. Francis Hospital in Florida, United States of America, died on 24th June 2014 of Anoxin Brain Injury after a certain poisonous gas from the hospital escaped and choked him. The deceased was working as a missionary under the congregation of the Apostles of Jesus.
According to the deceased’s brother, Sgt Clement Bwayo, a police officer attached to the Special Field Force Regiment in Kawempe Police station, Fr Bwayo was on duty together with 67 other hospital staff when the poisonous gas escaped and affected them. They were however evacuated but the gas had already entered his brain.
He was hospitalized for three weeks but he died on June 24th. His body was flown to Uganda for burial on Tuesday.
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Sgt Bwayo who is the next of kin of the deceased explained that on Tuesday when the casket arrived at Entebbe Airport aboard the KLM flight, Rev. Fr. Joseph Kyeyune, the Regional Superior of the Apostle of Jesus missionaries in Uganda, together with three other priests were waiting for the body saying they were the rightful owners.
Bwayo says the priests tried in vain to have the body and the death certificate of the deceased. He claims that it took the intervention of the police at Entebbe Airport to have the body released to the relatives.
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Sgt Bwayo said when they brought the body on Tuesday for burial at St. Peter Clever Church, Muyembe Parish in Bulambuli near the deceased’s ancestral home, he was informed by Fr. Kasmiu Matsanga, the parish priest that the church has refused the body to be buried at the mission.
He said Fr. Matsanga told him he received directives from the Archbishop’s office not to allow the body to be buried there and that no Catholic priest should preside over the mass for his burial.
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The family members now accuse Archbishop of taking a tough stand and probably abusing the canon law because of a long-standing land wrangle between the family and the church. Attempts to get a comment from the Archbishop were futile as he is reportedly out of the country for official visit.
Fr. Keyune told URN this is a long story and promised in vain to call back later. When contacted again, he said he could not “comment on rubbish” before he switched off his phone.
But Fr. Matsanga confirmed receiving the directives. He said the Archbishop accused the deceased’s brothers of having a long-standing wrangle with the church over two hectares of land located in Bwihonge village, Muyembe parish in Bulambuli district. The grand parents of the deceased donated to the church 18 hectares of the land in this village, but the family now accuses the church of encroaching on two more hectares which was not given to them.
In 2005, High Court in Mbale ruled in favour of the family and awarded 11.5 million shillings as damages but the church is yet to pay the money.
Fr. Matsanga, who presided over Fr Peter Kasoli’s burial on Wednesday, said he did it on personal grounds because he is too close to the family.
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The deceased was buried on Wednesday at his ancestral home in Bwihonge village in Bulambuli.
Who is Father Peter Kasooli Bwayo?
Father Bwayo, a member of the Religious Missionary Order of the Apostles of Jesus, was born in Muyembe, Mbale district on January 1, 1959.
He ordained a priest Oct. 22, 1989 and served in Uganda and Kenya before he went to the United States in 1994. He received a Master's Degree in Divinity in 1996 from Maryknoll University in New York and a Master's Degree in Social Work from Fordham University.
He served at parishes in Brooklyn, New York, then went to the Diocese of St. Petersburg in 2002. At the time of his death on June 24th, he was Chaplain in Pastoral Care Ministry at St. Joseph's Hospital and the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, both in Tampa.