Kigezi Diocese Laity Demand Resignation of Bishop Katwesigye

Laity in Kigezi Diocese write an 8-page letter to Archbishop Henry Orombi calling for the resignation of Bishop Katwesigye for corruption, sectarianism and nepotism.
A group of Christians in Kigezi Diocese are calling for the resignation of their Bishop, George Katwesigye.

In a letter dated February 4th 2011, the group accuses Bishop Katwesigye of sectarianism and nepotism. It claims that the only clergy promoted are those from his home county, Rukiga County in Kabale district, and those of his clan, the abasigi.

The group names reverends Amos Twetaise, Steven Turyamureeba, Justus Twinomujuni, Jackson Betubiza and Justus Tukamuhabwa, whom it claims were only promoted because they are members of the abasigi clan. It is alleged that their career advancements led to the illegal demotion of five other priests in the diocese.

The letter addressed to Bishop Katwesigye and copied to the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Provincial Secretary and the House of Bishops. It is signed by Hillary Ayebare Bindeba.

The letter has caused a storm in Kigezi Diocese.

Kabale district has for decades tolerated the unusual marriage of religion and politics. Every election season, the church – both Catholic and Anglican – plays a central role in mediating political conflict and influencing the vote.

Now, it appears that some Christians in the district have had enough.

In the letter, Bishop Katwesigye is accused of forcing the clergy to turn their pulpits into campaign stages. It claims that Katwesigye turned synod meetings into political gatherings, causing division and disintegration of the diocese.

Particular attention is given to reports that Katwesigye was a polarizing figure in the recent parliamentary elections, urging his congregation to vote for candidates of the National Resistance Movement. It is alleged that clergy who supported the Bishop’s agenda were given cash inducements for their work.

Additionally, the Bishop is accused of embezzling 10 million shillings from Central Bank Governor Tumusiime Mutebile and 100 million shillings that President Yoweri Museveni gave the diocese to purchase a bus. The money for the bus was channeled to construct a Diocesan Revival Center without the consent of the laity.

The eight-page letter accuses Katwesigye of condoning crime among his clergy.

It alleges that Reverend Esau Habomugisha, the Vicar of All Saints Church in Kabale was caught with a prostitute in Kagadi town. Katwesigye reportedly turned a blind eye to this and paid 800,000 shillings to secure Rev. Habomugisha’s release from police cells.

After this incident, the reverend was moved to head churches in Muko Parish and was never disciplined.

As if this isn’t enough, the Bishop is charged with ignoring the plight of highly impoverished clergy in his diocese. The letter gives the example of Reverend Ruhigira of Rweyonza Church, who when he passed away recently, the diocese only raised 150,000 shillings to cater for his funeral expenses and to take care of its family.

On Saturday, the laity traveled to Kampala to meet Archbishop Henry Orombi to address the matter directly. They say they were unable to talk to him because he was on leave. Instead they met provincial staff for four meetings, but failed to reach a resolution.

Hillary Bindeba, the chief complainant, says that although no agreement was reached, he was happy that they openly expressed their feelings about Bishop Katwesigye’s leadership. He says that if the Bishop does not retire, thousands of Christians will leave the Anglican church.

Bishop Katwesigye insists that the claims against him are all lies. He says he has only promoted two clergy from his clan and the evidence is available for all to see.

The Bishop also distances himself from the allegations of political intrigue. He says he has never supported any particular candidates or campaigned for them. According to him, the reports are only intended to tarnish his name and to divide the church.

The February 4th letter is the fourth one on its kind sent to the Archbishop.