Breaking

Retired Clergy Cite Money, Politics in Kumi Diocese Chaos

The Diocese was thrown in turmoil when the House of Bishops revoked the appointment of Rev. Charles Okunya Oode as the Bishop-elect of Kumi, taking over from Rt. Rev. Thomas Edson Irigei, who had clocked retirement age.
Rev. Charles Okunya Oode, the bishop- elect of Kumi diocese.

Audio 3

Retired Clergy have pointed out money, power and politics as some of the issues igniting squabbles in Kumi Diocese.   

The Diocese was thrown in turmoil when the House of Bishops revoked the appointment of Rev. Charles Okunya Oode as the Bishop-elect of Kumi, taking over from Rt. Rev. Thomas Edson Irigei, who had clocked retirement age. 

Rev. Okunya had been elected Bishop in November 2019. But his consecration which was due to take place on December 29, 2019, was cancelled on the basis of a petition by a group calling itself the Concerned Christians of Kumi Diocese, who alleged that the Bishop-elect had an extra-marital affair and had sired children outside wedlock.     

On February 5, the Church leadership announced that his election had been revoked on grounds that the Bishop-elect had not attained the 65-year age bar.     

In his letter to Kumi Diocesan Chancellor, Emmanuel Ilukor, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda His Grace Stanley Ntagali stated that the House of Bishops had reviewed Rev. Okunya’s National Identity Card, NIRA records, Passport, academic records from Uganda Christian University and those submitted by the Diocese during the vetting processes and established that he did not qualify for the job.   

The records indicate that Rev. Okunya was born on November 23, 1975, indicating that he was a year younger to attain the age of becoming a bishop in line with Article 13 of the Provincial Constitution and Church of Uganda Provincial Canons.  The communication from the Archbishop also barred Rev. Okunya from taking part in any future elections in Kumi Diocese.

But this communication was received with mixed reactions and split the Church into camps. Our reporter says that attendance of church service has gradually decreased over the last two months. On Sunday, police heavily deployed at major churches, including St. Phillips Cathedral to quell protests by the Christians.  

Now, Retired Clergy in Kumi and Soroti Dioceses have indicated that an exchange of money and external forces from civil and political angles.  Rev. Can. Job Osuret, who served the Church for 51 years questions why the House of Bishops failed to do due diligence in the matter, long before the appointment was announced. 

He observed that the woes in Kumi Diocese evolve from the fact that many church leaders pay more attention to affluent people at the expense of the established laws and church doctrines. 

//Cue in; “They were the people...    

Cue out...is still there.”//   

Another retired clergy, Rev. Can. Phillip Okiru of Soroti Diocese says that the developments in Kumi depict a bad sign for the Church as a body of Christ in Teso Sub Region.  He wondered why the Church allowed external forces to penetrate into its affairs especially, in the episcopal elections. 

//Cue in; “When we are doing...

Cue out...ateker kosi okwee.”// 

Rt. Rev. Thomas Edson Irigei, the first Bishop of Kumi Diocese says that all the required procedures were followed in the nomination and election of Rev. Okunya, adding that the process was affected by the intrusion of external forces in church matters.  

//Cue in; “There is unfaithfulness... 

Cue out...to be done.”// 

Although a majority of the aggrieved Christians in Kumi Diocese are pointing fingers towards Kumi Orthopedic, Dr John Ekure, others blame some senior members of the clergy in the Diocese for fueling the crisis. But all the accused persons have denied knowledge and engagement in the church matters. The diocesan secretary, Rev. Capt. Moses Okello has declined to comment on the matter. 

The situation in the diocese has remained tense as Christians vow to continue in the fight for what they describe as Justice for Rev. Okunya.   On Sunday, more than 30 people protesting the revocation of Rev. Okunya’s election were arrested but released without any charges at Ngora CPS after few hours.