Kabale- The Kabale Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr Darius Nandinda, has appealed to bishops in Kigezi sub-region to restrain serving priests from engaging in partisan politics.
He said such action divides their flock along political affiliations. Mr Nandinda was addressing a press conference at his office on Thursday where he argued that priests involved in partisan politics have lost track of their pastoral work of providing spiritual guidance to their flock.
“I am not stopping priests from participating in the politics of our country. But for purposes of harmony amongst their flock, they should pass their views through the area members of Parliament and local leaders to demand services for their people but not involving themselves directly in partisan politics. Talking politics to people who have come for spiritual healing is dangerous,” Mr Nandinda said.
“I am drafting letters to the bishops of Kigezi Diocese and Kabale Diocese, asking them to restrain their priests from partisan politics in order to save the integrity of the church. Issues of Father Gaetano Batanyenda, a serving priest at Kitanga Catholic Parish, using the church platform to promote the Opposition and claiming that he is a member of the NRM party should stop,” he added.
Mr Nandinda said the continued association of Fr Batanyenda and other priests supporting the Opposition and using the church platform to criticise government should not be interpreted that all Catholics in Kigezi oppose the NRM government.
Fr Batanyenda is the head of clergy at Kabale Diocese, which covers all the districts in Kigezi sub-region, and also the parish priest for Kitanga Catholic Church.
In response, Fr Batanyenda said refraining serving priests from partisan politics is good but it should be applied across the board.
He said serving priests criticising the NRM should not be labelled partisan while those supporting it are glorified as patriots.
“The involvement of serving priests in partisan politics is bad but priests have the rights to preach about good and bad leadership of their country. Why is it that the priests campaigning for NRM government are glorified while those of us criticising it are called partisan and associated with Opposition political parties?” Fr Batanyenda asked.
“When I was criticising the Obote regime, the NRM leaders were thanking me for the good work well done and always urged me to continue. Now that I am criticising their government, they are calling me a bad person. Besides preaching the Bible, as a priest, it’s my duty to show the flock the right direction to take to avoid being eaten by hungry lions,” Fr Batanyenda added.
He asked priests involved in advocacy for good leadership in Uganda to stand firm and reminded them that in future they will be remembered and honoured like former Archbishop of Uganda Janani Luwum.