jobaze

Independent opinions

Father Musaala; A hypocrite or Redeemer of the Catholic Church?

The past has been full of headlines about the Catholic Church, being brought about by Fr. Musaala whose letter ‘leaked’ to the media and has opened up lots of controversy about his integrity, personality & approach to the issues rather than the message.

The Arch Bishop of the Uganda Catholic Church suspended him from “celebrating sacraments and sacramentals, from the powers of governance in accordance to the law of the Church Can.1335 and1336§1n.1, 2and3 as investigations are being carried on”. For those who may have missed the two stories, a blogger put the letter on his site http://www.sebaspace.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/father-musaala-blows-the-lid-off-priestly-sexual-abuse-in-uganda-africa/ and here is Arch Bishop’s responce http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/640841-church-suspends-fr-musaala-over-sex-claims.html as published in the New Vision.

Let me first clarify that I am not a catholic and any view of mine is purely mine and not based on any religious denomination.

I disagree with Father Musaala when he calls for removal of chastity for priests. This is because the shortcomings of one individual should not have a negative impact on the whole Church. The Church is much bigger than Fr. Musaala and it even existed long before he joined it. Taking the celibacy vow was purely on his free will and I would like to think that no one forced him to (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

However, some of the issues he raises in his letter have gotten me thinking. Is there some rot in the Church that needs to be corrected? Has the Catholic Church done enough to prevent this rot or they are either deliberately ignoring it, or aware of it but sweeping it under their carpets?

Below is a comment, by a Justine Mugisha, I read on one of the blogging sites;

“Father Anthony thank you so much for bringing this up. It’s time that the catholic religion faced up to its failures. I am a Catholic woman, who is battling the love i have for my church against the ill feelings against the catholic priesthood for their sexual immorality that we Ugandan catholics feel obliged not to talk about. When I’d just left S.6, I was affronted by the sexual advances from several priests – so called family friends – that made me turn against the church for a while. I’m back in the church but i don’t go for confession. I don’t believe that the hype that the catholic church preaches that even if the priest is a transgressor – Christ is present in that sacrament. Recently there was a case at a catholic uni where a nun gave birth to a baby, fathered by a priest, and threw him into a pit latrine! Only by the grace of God did that child survive. And guess what; When the police came in, they had left out the nuns’ abode in the search for the mother. It was the young girls, who after their hostels were searched, insisted that the nuns be searched too. Lo and behold the culprit and her 4 nun helpers were caught. It’s little wonder that this Redpepper material story never reached the public – you can imagine how much of our Tithe was used in shutting up the story. If the Catholic church does not style up and accept marriage among the priests – then it might as well say it promotes promiscuity, irresponsible parenthood and believes that the unborn child has no rights.

Well, let us not hide from reality. there is evil all around us. This evil may not be spiritual but it is affecting people we know including our very own sons and daughter. Our young people are being taken advantage of regardless of where they are. Even in Churches where we go to for redemption, we can never be sure. Children are being abused, Fathers engaging in sexual behaviour e.t.c. This raises a question whether it is any of my bussiness. Well, if you claim to be a spiritual leader, I expect you to be exemplary and you must live to the standard expected from you by the public. If you take a vow, then live by it, especially if no one forced you to take it. That is where I challenge Fr. Musaala on his views of celibacy in Church.

I admire how the papal elections were recently conducted. Despite the changing times, the Catholic Church has managed to maintain it’s traditionalism in all it’s actions. Even the security around the vatican is proof of this, So, why should one ‘disgruntled & frustrated’ priest call for modernisation of traditional beliefs?

My problem comes when these spiritual leaders take oaths and break them. Just like in any country, company, organisation, bussiness, group e.t.c, once you sign a contract, you are legally bound to uphold it. Any breach of that contract is liable to consequences. A Priestly vow is a matter between that individual and their God. I would be wrong to support him if he breaks that vow, especially if he took it on his own free will.

As for the allegations he makes against the Catholic Church; His only credibility will be when he is able to mention the names of his mates who have broken the celibacy vow. If he has no names, then his integrity will have totally been lost. It is common knowledge to very many people that these celibate priests are not celibate in real life. The difference between Father Musaala and these other people is that Fr. Musaala has opted to go public while these others opted for silence. I pray he doesnt succumb to any intimidation he is receiving from the different people who hold different views and instead he comes out and helps in cleansing his Church. I support him when he says thus;

I am therefore compiling cases from all over Uganda.I believe that if all the victims of molestations were to come out and sue the church in civil courts, such abuses would sharply decreased. I am also helping to set up a Victims Support Group, independent of the church for obvious reasons, with guidance and help from similar groups in Europe and the States. I have also engaged a Human rights lawyer to advise on the wider implications of clergy abuse on the basic human rights of individuals, especially women. Join me in this exciting challenge to bring fundamental change and renewal  to the catholic church

which clearly shows he has good intentions for his Church and wishes them good.

Many commentators have decided to attack the messenger and ignore the message which is totally wrong. Yes, Fr. Musaala may have heard his shortcomings in life (The Bible clearly says that all have fallen short of his glory) but that shouldn’t be a reason to ignore his message. I would like to believe he thought hard about this before coming out and weighed out the consequences which (in his view) were worth it. He is an adult of sound mind, and has never been proved insane, so his message (or ‘grievances & frustrations’, as some people would prefer to call it) shouldn’t be ignored!

What if there is some truth in his allegations? What if the Church has been knowing the evil actions of their members and ignoring them? What if we have Fathers who took their Celibacy vows but instead are molesting Children, fathering secret children and even having wives? Many of us have heard these allegations levied against them, I’m sure some of you can even name specific individuals! There is no smoke without fire.

For those who call Fr. Musaala a disgruntled and frustrated person, I say these are the best people to unearth the dirt in their groups despite their ulterior motives!!!

It is in this regard that I didnt like the responce from the Church. They seemed to concetrate more on the Canon law than the Bible when deciding his fate (suspension). I would like to think that just like the supremacy of any Country’s constitution, the Bible is the supreme book of law for even the Catholics. Therefore, I expected the responce to quote much more of the Bible than anything else. Quoing the Bible would have given this a whole new angle! Well, assuming Jesus was still around, or rather assuming it was during his time, would he have suspended Fr. Musaala from the community? Or he would have said, “My son, come & talk to me. Your sins are forgiven”. Let the Church look upto Jesus & God as they deal with this situation lest the administrative policy will overshadow the spiritual law.

As for Fr. Musaala, he should engage in dialogue with his team, or rather Church members. He may have a point (and yes, he has the right to voice his views) but let him concetrate on much more of the Church than the media & the public (who may not even be part of the Catholic Church and dont give a damn!). His membership to the Church is of paramount importance, just like any other Catholic, and he should aim at integrating the Church rather than the causing divided belief among the members. He was right to voice out his concerns but let them be aimed more to the Church than to the non-Church members

May God bless the Catholic Church and hopefully, this will help them come out stronger than ever before.

For God & my country
jobaze@gmail.com
@jobaze (on twitter)

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9 Comments

  1. Pat

    Joseph,
    Thanks for the piece. let me make a this point clear
    One is that Priests and other clergy aren’t angels from heaven. They are humans who sin just like everyone else. Priests are not God’s representatives on earth, they are human beings who have chosen to do God’s work. Please note this: they have chosen, God has not anointed them to represent Him.
    We shouldn’t see priests as God’s representatives because they are not. They are ordinary guys who have given their lives to doing God’s work they are servants of God.
    They may perfect it or fail but its God to judge them not us. Therefore we shouldn’t expect them to be exceptionally righteous. We should be righteous ourselves.
    When priests and the clergy sin, it doesn’t dent the church, the church as you say is biggest than any individual and these priests aren’t acting on behalf of the church. the church doesn’t ask them to commit sins.

    So what to do with priests and clergy who commit wrongs.
    I think society must be educated that if for instance, a priest defiles a girl it’s a crime and he should be reported to police immediately. Currently, because of their status in society and because of the nature of our societies, such priests are reported to the Bishop and because a Bishop is also human, he in most cases transfers the priest to another parish and the matter is settled with the family, amicably.
    This is the practice across the country. It’s not limited to priests of the catholic church alone. Even pentecostal preachers, pastors and anglicans Reverend and Bishops get shielded from police and from public shame.
    As a matter of fact, all people of some status in society are shielded from police when they commit sexual crimes.
    Priests should not be singled out and ostracized. This happens to everyone.
    How many big men have defiled girls and gotten away with it?
    According to a radio report about 27 girls are defiled across the country every day. These are cases reported to the police. So many aren’t reported. How many of these 27 cases involve Priests of men os status?

    The solution is more education to society so that they report these cases to police.

    What Musaala and Justine Mugisha are doing is what society has been doing all these years and which has made the issue worse. Musaala and others aren’t brave enough to report wrong doers to the police. Musaala and others who know criminals but are concealing them, are no different from the uneducated villagers deep in the place with little civilization whose children are defiled and they run to the bishop and not the police.

    • A sin by a Priest dents his boss’ image. A cover-up by the Bishop makes matters worse. Once you publicly take a vow as any kind of leader (be it spiritual or political), you are expected to keep it. Intentions of breaking it should be publicly communicated to avoid people misunderstanding you, which is the point in this case! Vows with your God are a matter between you & God. Reason why when I choose to fast, I don’t have to tell anyone when I’m doing it or when I’m breaking it.

      As for those allegations, a friend of mine sent me a comment in my facebook inbox; “Those of us who have grown and stayed around priests know that these issues have been around but people tend to shy away from the truth. We even know priests with kids. In America and Europe, the catholic church has spent so many billions of dollars settling child abuse cases as the same are put under the carpet once the settlement is done. At one point, a certain artheist argued that the Pope should be indicted at the ICC because he knowingly connived with various Dioceses to hide the truth. BTW, father Musaala is not the first priest to advocate for priests to denounce celibacy. This is actually one of the challenges the church is facing in order to curb the dwindling numbers of believers. In fact, there’s a faction which has broken off from the main church in allowing marriage. These are priests who were ordained by Bishop. “Its bigger than Musaala” is all I can say for now”

      One of the problems that the Church has is abiding by a Canon law side by side to the Bible. It is such laws that put a caveat on many priests and faithfuls from going to the police but rather to the Bishop. And the Church is well know for protecting their own from a public sacrifice. Isn’t this a rot of a kind?

      You would be very wrong to say the Church is firm when it’s Bishops & Priests are being doubted! The strength of the Church entirely lies on individuals who lead it. The shortcoming of these individuals have an impact on the faithfuls!

      As for judgement by God, would you really prefer the Church to keep quiet and wait for Judgement day for God to decide the fate of Musaala? Yes, God is the Judge but the administration has to seek ways of integrating members of their Church which calls for them to make Judgements with Spiritual Guidance (I really don’t know how the spiritual guidance is gotten)!

      If there is misbehavior by anyone, let us not have a compromise with them. They must face the full wrath of the law (We seem to agree on this one). Question is; How & To who will these culprits be reported? This is what the Church has failed to address

  2. Concerned Catholic

    Folks,
    The Church is pursuing a path to weed out this vice. When he visited Australia during his tenure, the Pope Emeritus Benedict 16 said we should report sexually abusive clerics DIRECTLY to the police as we would with anyone else. He asked why we do not do so. He also mandated each Diocese and each parish should develop and implement policies designed to protect the vulnerable. So, Catholics, lets all ask our Parish Councils and priests what policies they have in place.

    Priests with children should leave and go look after their children. They are being dishonest and irresponsible to lead double hypocritical lives. (And why should we pay for their upkeep?)

    Please get this right, sexual abuse is not exclusive to fallen celibates. Google “clerical sexual abuse” followed by any of the following Pentecostals,Mormons, Hassidic Jews Episcopalians, Baptists and any others you can think of. See what you get. Most sexual abusers are married which is why 28% of schoolgirls in South Africa and only 4% schoolboys. A survey was done amongst abuse victims and most had been abused by married men and family members. I hope this is clear.

    That said, we need to examine Fr Musaala’s motives – in the interests of accuracy. He said on TV (On the Spot, NTV (U) that 1. He has no interest in marrying and 2. No priests had asked him to represent them and campaign for celibacy to be removed.) What is true he has been under investigation since 2009 and in fact earlier. Since then (Charles Kintu) efforts at rehab have been continuous . (In JULY 2010 the following brief video was posted on YouTube by someone purporting to be his nephew, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reGM8cnn_wc

    Is Father trying to deflect attention from the complaints against him? There is a steady stream of these to the Bishop since as early as 1999.

    Blessed Easter Season.

  3. Muwanguzi

    I grew up in the catholic chuch but I find it filled with many bunches of rots under the name of priests. Covering up evil is no solution. Long-live Fr Musaala. There is no wrong he did. In America they tried to cover up all such rotten stuff and sexual molesting of boys by priests and now they are regreting. Thye should make priestly a contract so that people can be free to leave and marry. Otherwise the Catholic church abroad is getting okay but in poor nations like Uganda the old-fashioned bishops and and leaders still think as if they are still in BC, they think that by covering up sexual immorality they will win. They are just trying to protect their money they get from people. THIS IS A NEW GENERATION in need of new leaders with new visions.

    • ibrahim k.m.

      Dear Muwanguzi, thank you very much for your comment. Growing up in the Catholic Church may not necessarily mean that you are a Catholic or you understand or you love the Catholic Church. your comment shows very well how ignorant you are, you need to be educated very much to know what is happening in the world and in all religions and in politics and the sincerity of people.

  4. Aloysius

    You guys need to read your Bibles. In 1 Samuel 2 you will read about the two sons of Eli, who were wicked priests. These priests were known to be having intercourse with the women who worked at the Tabernacle (1 Sm 2:22-24). God punished them for their wickedness (1 Sm 2:25, 34, 4:11), but that did not disprove the religion of Israel or that its priesthood was from God. Similarly, the fact that there are bad priests today does not prove that the Catholic religion is false or that its priesthood is not from God.

    Bad priests have been around since the Old Testament, and if you had judged the religion of Israel by the quality of some of its priests, you would have missed out on the true religion. Ditto for Catholicism today.This is not the first time that the Church has had to deal with scandal and sin within its ranks; nor is the Church unique in this regard. Every church, every school, every human organization of any size faces similar issues. Moreover, we must always remember that the vast majority of bishops and priests are in no way involved in these scandals. There will always be saints and heroes as well as offenders and cowards in the Church, and a Church that has saints and heroes can never be dismissed as “a hypocritical joke.”

    Over nearly two thousand years, people within the Church’s hierarchy have sometimes failed to live up to the honorable reputations befitting their offices. The inquisition and the Crusades, scoundrel popes, or even the recent priest scandal often cause Catholics to cringe in embarrassment or, worse, prompt some to leave the Church altogether.

    Some non-Catholics cite such human failings as evidence that the Catholic Church cannot be God’s true Church. A recent writer to Catholic Answers stated his concern quite clearly: “I do not believe that Christ would use such men to represent him.”

    Should Catholics be concerned that sinful popes and bishops do not authentically represent Christ in their teaching? Amid scandal, can the teaching of our Church be true?Scripture can help us answer these questions.

    The First Christians

    Jesus appointed the apostles to be the first representatives of his Church:

    And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Lk 6:13-16; see also Mt 10:1-4, Mk 3:13-19)

    The word apostle is translated from the Greek word apostolos, which simply means one who is sent as a messenger. Christ’s apostles were sent by him endowed with the authority to teach in his name: “And he appointed twelve, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach . . .” (Mk 3:14).The most notorious of the apostles is, of course, Judas Iscariot—the one who betrayed Jesus.Of Judas, Jesus said, “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born” (Mt 26:24).

    Judas seems like an obvious example of a scandalously sinful person who Jesus appointed to represent him. But some might argue that Judas was not corrupt when Jesus first appointed him an apostle, not until the Last Supper when “Satan entered into” him (cf. Lk 22:3, Jn 13:27), or that Judas died before he ever got a chance to really “represent” Jesus.But Scripture indicates that Judas was a serious sinner before the Last Supper. For example, consider the story of Lazarus’ sister Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume: “Judas . . . said, ‘Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it” (Jn 12:4-6).

    So Judas was a thief long before he betrayed Jesus. But did he ever really represent Jesus? Scripture indicates that he did—he was one of the apostles to whom Jesus said: “And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Mt 10:7).Jesus entrusted preaching to Judas, a serious sinner!
    But it was Peter who Jesus appointed to be the head of his Church—our first pope. And Peter, too, was a sinful man.For example, he wrongly rebuked Jesus in Mt 16:21-23.For a moment Peter lost faith in what Jesus was teaching him and, for this, Jesus rebuffed him. And it was Peter who later denied Jesus—three times—rather than suffer with him.Consider the scandalous incident of Peter, now our first pope, at Antioch. He knew full well that Christians—whether Jewish or Gentile converts—were not bound by the Mosaic law, yet he hypocritically went along with some of the Jewish converts in not eating with the Gentile converts (a prohibition formerly imposed by the Mosaic law). Other Christians followed his bad example, and so Paul rebuked Peter in Gal 2:11-13.

    It is significant to note that the Barnabas just mentioned was considered to be an apostle (cf. Acts 13:2, 14:14) and that he, too, behaved badly on this occasion.Luke says of Barnabas, “he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11:24), yet he is another example of an authoritative representative of Christ who did not always represent Jesus well in his personal behavior. So, clearly, Jesus does use sinners to represent him.
    We’ve seen scriptural proof that at least a few of Jesus’ authoritative representatives were manifest sinners. I mean no disrespect to any of them—the truth is, all of the apostles were sinners: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). The same is true of their successors, the leaders of the Catholic Church. Yet Jesus appointed them anyway.

    There are a number of reasons why the Catholic Church is a prime target for abuse: It is large and unified; it keeps detailed records, whereas recurring problems are much harder to track in other churches; and it takes such an exalted moral stance on so many issues in a way that is threatening to many people who don’t want to look at the morality of their actions.

    In short, the sins of 4% of Catholic priests over a 50 year period (.08% a year !) do not negate Catholic teaching on ANYTHING, any more than the betrayal of Judas, an apostle of Jesus hand picked by Jesus himself who represents 1/12 = 8.33 % of the apostles, negates Christianity!

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