Not many desire to try out Fr Anthony Musala’s shoes right now. How one writes a stinging letter while the Pope assumes office, laying bare facts on the filth in the church and goes ahead to call for radical reforms is a reality too huge for the throat. You can describe him by any adjective in your mind. You can agree or disagree with him and you have the choice to either love or hate him. But perhaps, after a moment of reflection and soul searching, you and I might ask the question: What if this man is right?
The first time I came face to face with issues of clerical celibacy, particularly in the Catholic Church, I was a student of Julius Ocwinyo’s Fate of Banished, which is arguably the most authoritative Ugandan fiction voice on the same, especially having been written by a former seminarian. In there, I came face to face with a one Santo Dila, a Catholic priest entangled in an affair with a married woman. But that was only fiction.
Hardly a year after I shelved Ocwinyo’s novel, Musaala drops a bombshell and earns himself instant suspension. What follows? Testimonies by the public of priests and bishops siring children. One caller actually had to be stopped by a moderator when he called in Kfm’s Hot Seat show on Thursday and made sweeping allegations of a tycoon fathered by a deceased cardinal. During the same show, Ethics Minister, Rev Fr Simon Lokodo admitted he had, “heard of but not seen,” priests with children.
What does all this mean? A reasonable number of Priests have children. Implication? Those children are living a life of exile and captivity in their own land because their parents are subjected to fugitive life by Catholic tradition. What does this say about the church? It can sweep anything under the carpet but the nasty truth will once in a while pop out. The way it happened in the Vatican during Pope Benedict XVI’s reign.
Musaala actually thinks the men of the robe should marry. He thinks this will somehow check inherent problems like paedophilia, homosexuality and child siring. Certainly all these are of a global magnitude, whose beastly feet have even sneaked their way to the Vatican.
Yet we think; if he cannot be celibate he should pack his bags and go! If he thinks he can turn the tables of a religion’s age old tradition, then he must be evicted from the fantasy world. We might be right. Doing wrong should not be justification enough for changes to be made in the church. If some Muslims eat pork, it is akin to declaring a world war to suggest, let alone think of suggesting that the swine prohibition be lifted. If public officials steal money with historical genius, then we can declare corruption legal and like Musaala says, “have a frank and open dialogue” on the matter.
But come to think of it. Anglican priests marry. Sheikhs do. Pastors and other Pentecostal leaders do with equal confidence. Are we Catholics so holier than them that we had better stick to hiding our heads in the sand and choking with rigidity? For how long shall we do this? I am not saying anything. I am only reflecting on the question, what if Musaala is right?