By Abraham Kizza
Rev. Fr. Jacinto Ambrose Kibuuka was on Sunday consecrated Bishop of the Evangelical Orthodox Church for Central and Eastern Uganda amidst strong antagonism from the Roman Catholic Church.
The charismatic catholic priest whose claim to fame is traced way back from his miraculous activities at St Sion Prayer Centre, Bukalango, was last year suspended from Catholic Church by Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, Archbishop of Kampala for being ‘disobedient.’
Kibuuka was suspended by Dr. Lwanga in a letter dated July 12, 2016, saying, “It is therefore with regret that we wish to inform the general public that after several months of tedious pastoral and canonical attempts to salvage the situation, we have been obliged to suspend Rev Fr Jacinto Kibuuka from the Roman Catholic Priestly ministry.”
This suspension prompted Kibuuka to denounce the Catholic Church and opted to start Mamre Prayer Centre located in Janda-Namugongo which has since then been growing big and bigger.
But what does Kibuuka’s decision to ‘secede’ means to the catholic faith?
It is worth noting that as soon as Kibuuka denounced the Catholic Church to start his own under the Evangelical Orthodox faith, there was a lot of confusion, divisionism and intrigue as many catholic priests joined Kibuuka’s church. Among them included; Fr. Dr. Deogratias Ssonko, Fr Anthony Ssewanyana, Fr. Vincent Byansi, Grace Kintu, Brain Lumala and one Nteza, Rev Fr. Dr John Baptist Matovu, a professor from Kyambogo University and Rev Fr. Innocent Lulangirwa among others.
This defection of catholic priests has been a big blow to the church and has consequently worsened the relationship between the Kampala diocese and followers of Mamre prayer centre. In a bid to avoid being expelled from the Catholic Church, Fr. Ssonko recently publicly declared how he had quit Mamre and is seeking forgiveness to Dr. Kizito Lwanga to be taken back to the Catholic Church that he had earlier on forsaken.
“I feel guilty and thus ask for forgiveness from His Holiness Pope Francis, my ordinary Archbishop Dr. C.K Lwanga together with the entire Episcopal Conference, my fellow priests and the religion, the entire Roman Catholic faith in Uganda and the world at large up to the last person I have hurt,” Ssonko said. This divisionism has remained up to date.
Even prior to Kibuuka’s consecration event, the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) issued a press statement signed by UEC Chairman and Archbishop of Gulu, Rev. John Baptist Odama which was asking about the authenticity and validity of Kibuuka’s consecration.
“The upcoming consecration of the self-excommunicated Priest Kibuuka Jacinto to the position of a Bishop has raised many questions in the public. The basic question that is emerging pertains: the authenticity and validity of this consecration as seen from the point of view of Antiochian Orthodox Church and the 23 independent Churches within the Catholic Church led by Pope Francis,” the EUC statement said.
With a need to be understood by all Catholics, the statement was translated in Luganda and on Sunday, Dr, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga ordered all church leaders in Kampala Archdiocese to read it to their congregations in order to answer the questions that people have regarding what he called unfortunate event in their church history.
Reaction from Evangelical Orthodox Church
On the consecration event, National Evangelical leader, Bishop Thomas Kiiza Sibayirwa said the position of bishop in church is given by only Jesus Christ.
While reacting to what is going on between the Roman catholic and Evangelical Orthodox Church, the Orthodox church Bishop George Atieno cited the difference between the two adding that they are preaching the word of God however much they are labelled defiant.
“We have been labelled rebellious but we preach the word of God and serve our master Jesus Christ. We are one holy Apostolic Catholic Church, we are not Roman Catholic Church,” said Bp. Atieno.
On the same note, Father Kibuuka challenged those calling him a false preacher and boasted about his ability to bring several Bishops to witness his consecration.
“If people have been saying that my teachings are false, where did I get all these Bishops who are here?” he asked.
During the consecration, the National leader of the faith Bp. Kiiza while citing the biblical verse about the qualities of a bishop told Kibuuka that he is at liberty to marry if he wishes so but that this should be a monogamous type since in their faith, it is a priest’s choice to either marry or live a celibate life.
“In our faith, we don’t make celibacy vows because we believe in Holy matrimony and having families. Now, Bishop Kibuuka, you are free to decide on the life style you prefer to stay in for the rest of your life,” said Bp. Kiiza.
This act however angers Roman Catholic Church since they see it as violating its dogma because priests are supposed to live a celibate life.
What do others think?
Peter Mukasa who fellowships from Mamre Prayer Centre told Kampala Post that he was thrilled about the event no matter the attempts made to fail his priest.
“I feel good that our priest has been ordained Bishop amidst all the opposition,” he said.
The Government through the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Gen Kahinda Otafiire who was the Chief Guest at the consecration ceremony recognized and promised to support the Evangelical Orthodox Church from any persecution and opposition.
“Our government recognises this church as an independent church, nobody in leadership should interfere in the matters of faith unless if it’s against the law. Whenever you are persecuted for your faith, I assure you that government will shoulder you Bishop Kibuuka and Antioch church,” said Gen Otafiire.
With all that, as the Catholic Church is trying to distance itself from Kibuuka, it is afraid that he could draw many of its believers to his new faith who could in turn oppose the canons of Roman Catholicism.
It is believed that many other top priests of the Catholic Church who are uncomfortable with the doctrines of the church could too fallout with it and join Kibuuka and cause an overhaul in the catholic faith.
It should be remembered that in just a short period back, a popular Catholic Charismatic preacher and influential gospel artiste Rev. Fr. Anthony Musaala was also suspended from the Catholic priestly ministry by the ecclesiastical tribunal of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Kampala after disagreements between him and his superiors at Rubaga.