Shut up, Catholic Church orders Fr. Musaala

Tuesday April 2 2013

By Tabu Butagira

Kampala

A Catholic priest, who last month exposed prevalence of sexual adventure by his colleagues in violation of celibacy oath, has disengaged from the debate citing an “agreement” he reached with Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga.

Fr. Anthony Musaala, whom the prelate suspended about a fortnight ago for raising the allegations in public, yesterday said he was constrained to further discuss a subject he thrust into the public domain. “I made an agreement with the Archbishop [not to talk to the media] because there was so much happening; so much at stake, he said, “So, I will not comment and I hope you appreciate that.”

Fr. Musaala’s premature withdrawal came a day after Archbishop Lwanga, who suspended him mid-last month, made a U-turn on Easter eve to acknowledge and apologise for alleged sexual abuses, including of minors, by some priests. “It’s sad that there has been some misbehaving by some (priests) as alleged,” he said, before announcing an ad hoc commission had been constituted to inquire into the matter.

Findings of the investigations, according to Archbishop Lwanga, would not be made public because the Church has a cocooned mechanism of resolving such slip-ups.

In his March 12, 2013 dossier, first leaked on the Internet, Fr. Musaala noted that his colleagues had failed to keep celibate, accused the Catholic Church of unsustainable hypocrisy by shielding culpable clerics, and called for frank debate to end the vice he predicted was likely in future to bring down the church. He even suggested, to the chagrin of some Catholics, that willing priests should be allowed to marry instead of eloping with women and running secret homes, which Christians know and gossip about in private.

“Thus the unnecessary and unpalatable deception about celibate priests; that they are chaste when they are not, is clearly contradicted by what is on the ground, he wrote, “The deception is of course not tenable for much longer.”

Church cry
The barbed comments prompted a section of the Catholic community in Uganda to demand Fr. Musaala quits the vocation he joined voluntarily if he wants to marry instead of blackmailing the institution.

In those hey days as a frontline activist, Fr Musaala, who was suspended on March 19, told this newspaper that he had no regrets for authoring the dossier and demanded that cases of sexual abuse, especially of children, in Uganda should not be left to the church alone to tackle. He said then that his exposure of the vice was “a good thing” to draw attention of state actors to sex crimes and child abuse by catholic clerics.

Kampala Archbishop Lwanga offered to work with other bishops to investigate the allegations, nearly two weeks after the Archdiocese’s Judicial Vicar, the Rev. Fr. Andrew Katto-Kasirye, said it was up to Fr. Musaala to undo the damage caused to the church.

It remained unclear if Fr. Musaala, who on Archbishop Lwanga’s prodding agreed not to talk to journalists on the subject, would give up the fight against sexual abuse by his colleagues altogether.

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