Mpuuga Thanksigiving: Don’t ‘sanitise’ corruption, Gulu believer tells Catholic Church

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Mpuuga Thanksigiving: Don’t ‘sanitise’ corruption, Gulu believer tells Catholic Church
Masaka diocese

LIRA CITY | A Christian believer in Gulu City has written to the Kampala Archbishop expressing concerns over the fight against corruption in the country that he feels the Roman Catholic Church is abrogating.

In a June 10 letter addressed to Archbishop Paul Ssemogerere, Francis Ojok, a teacher and a Catholic faithful from Gulu Archdiocese, said the Catholic Church should not involve itself in a thanksgiving prayer for the former Leader of the Opposition Mathias Mpuuga, citing recent reports of corruption scandals strapped to his laces.

“Every day, we wake up to a new corruption scandal involving billions of shillings which should be helping Ugandans. The voice of the Catholic Church must become louder in condemning this vice that has crippled our nation in many sectors,” Ojok’s letter to the bishop reads in part.

Ojok said involvement of the Catholic Church in the thanksgiving ceremony for the former leader of position would amount to ‘sanitizing corruption scandal,’ compromising the moral principles of the Catholic Church.

“The chairperson of the organizing committee, Abed Bwanika, informed the nation that the Catholic Church would preside over that mass. As a Catholic, I am concerned that such an act would drag the church into the centre of this scandal and compromise its position as a moral voice in our society,” says Ojok.

While the letter should have been addressed to Bishop Serverus Jjumba of Masaka Diocese, there has been no indication that the Kampala Archdiocese that received it had washed its hands of the letter.

Several efforts to contact the diocese were futile and it appears that the arrow that Mr Ojok shot will not find a target in the darkness of the church.

Mr Ojok said "one of the persons at the centre of this scandal is the former Leader of Opposition, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, who allocated himself half a billion shillings (Shs500 million) in that bonanza”.

Ojok argues that the money could have been used for improving the quality of service delivery, citing refurbishment of Masaka Regional Referral Hospital and other health facilities in the country.

“Even at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, finding services like X-rays and CT-Scans is a problem. Instead of the Leader of the Opposition raising such issues in Parliament, Mpuuga decided to enrich himself at the expense of poor taxpayers,” says Ojok.

The letter, received by the Kampala Archdiocese Chancery - Lubaga, also questioned the silence of the Catholic Church in the recent reports of corruption within the government agencies. Ojok said the church should not be used as a hiding place for the corrupt.

“There have also been questions as to why the Catholic Church, which has always been vocal on matters of morality, has this time been conspicuously silent on this one. While the church has a duty to shepherd all the flock, it also has a duty to stand up for morality and uprightness. For the church to provide leadership on these fronts, it must not be used as a hiding place for the corrupt,” reads the letter.

Mr Mathias Mpuuga is facing a critical moment in his political career.

In recent years, politicians and public servants accused of immoral acts are usually seen actively involved in church functions, where they are offered front pews.

Mr Mpuuga, currently facing censure from his fellow legislators, has always been cited at the Catholic Church at Mengo when things are turning against his will. During Easter Mass, he took a seat in the front pew and looked like a celebrated hero.

Ojok says the Bishop and Catholic priests should instead restrict themselves to gracing functions where those accused of corruption display repentance, followed by apology to the tax payers.

“The Catholic Church risks losing its credibility as a voice of morality if it is seen to condone corruption and give cover to persons seeking to sanitise themselves after stealing from the poor,” says Ojok.

Mr Mpuuga has spared no speck of dust in mobilising for his Thanksgiving which is being seen by many as a political launchpad for his walk after falling out with the National Unity Platform over the controversial service award.

Mr Mpuuga and his hanger-on of the moment, Dr Abed Bwanika of Kimanya Kabonero, have been beating drums in indicating Masaka remains their political Mecca but they have not indicated if they have any other plans beyond the heartbeat of Buganda.

However, after falling out with NUP and Robert Kyagulanyi who showed late last month that he still enjoyed unbridled support in Mpuuga's and Bwanika's backyards, the embattled legislators appears to be walking on thorns as his social media posts are no longer rosy - instead decorated with angry Ugandans demanding her accounts for the Shs500 million.

At the Thanksgiving, Bishop Jjumba's diocese is expected to ride the donkey and lead the Hosanna. For a church that went as far as refusing to lead a requiem for former MP Paul Kato Lubwama over his public disavowal of the church and alleged involvement in witchcraft, it would be telling at the thanksgiving.

Yet even if Bishop Jjumba and the Catholic church went ahead to celebrate Mpuuga's political journey, the Bible would very much be in their favour as the holy scriptures allowing congregating with sinners.

"When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: 'Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?'" the scriptures say in Mark 2:16-17.

"On hearing this, Jesus said to them, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'"

Mr Mpuuga on Tuesday found an unlikely support against those calling out the Catholic church for standing by him with Mr Emmanuel Dombo, the National Resistance Movement director of information and publicity, saying church services should be conducted without discrimination.

“Mpuuga is a Catholic, and he has never been excommunicated. Even Galileo, who was excommunicated, was later forgiven and readmitted in the realm of faithfulness,” says Dombo.

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