After a series of press reports and evidence on ground, it is evident that a small part of Laity in West Ankole Diocese wants the first class Diocese in the Church Of Uganda to get a care taker Bishop.
On Sunday 12th June 2016, Daily Monitor published a story tittled “Christians threaten action on Ntagali over new Bishop”, herein, the faithfuls claimed that the two nominees from West Ankole nomination Committee were referred back without a justified reason; this petition was filed by over 200 laity through Kangaho and Co. Advocates. Two months after, Orumuri the local tabloid in their Volume. 27, No. 33, page 6 published a report how majority Heads of Laity had taken a position to refuse a care taker Bishop. In April, this website also published a report how it was eminent for West Ankole to get a caretaker bishop.
West Ankole Diocese is part and parcel of the wide Anglican Communion in Uganda known as Anglican Church of [the Province of] Uganda.
The Anglican Church of Uganda consists of the Dioceses listed in the provincial Constitution and other Diocese or Dioceses that may be created by decision of the Provincial Assembly in accordance with the provisions of the provincial constitution. West Ankole Diocese is governed by Church Of Uganda Canons, The Provincial Constitution and West Ankole Diocese Constitution. Church of Uganda is governed by the provincial Assembly .The Provincial Assembly is the final body expressing the united life of the Anglican Church of Uganda, and is supreme authority to speak and act in the name of this Church, made up of the constituent dioceses. As required by law, West Ankole Diocese was created out of Ankole Diocese promoting west Archdeaconry, one of its four Archdeaconries into a diocese, in September 1976 to cater for western area of the Diocese.2 From its inception, west Ankole has had three Bishops.
Church of Uganda Canons under Canon 1.3.8, provides for how and when the Archbishop may take over a diocese, however this is done with great regret just like divorce. Canon 1.3.8 stipulates that, In the event of a vacancy in a Diocese as result of death or illness or other incapacity of this Diocesan Bishop or where a Diocesan Bishop does not hand over the oﬃce upon attaining the age of 65 years, the Archbishop shall take over the see until a new Bishop is elected, consecrated and enthroned. The above canon sets how the Archbishop can take over the Diocese, one of the available conditions relevant to West Ankole is when the sitting does not hand over office. It is evident that the sitting Bishop has been bidding farewell to His faithful in all parishes and he is willing to retire. Therefore, unless otherwise, the Archbishop has no constitutional right to take over the Diocese of West Ankole per the present situation.
Article 9 of Church of Uganda Constitution stipulates the functions of the Archbishop of Uganda, inter alia, is to exercise general pastoral care, leadership, supervision and discipline over the whole Province in accordance. According to the letter addressed to the Archbishop by the parish Heads of laity gives an account of the Consecration committee which visited His Grace, where he did not allay the fears and concerns of the rumours that persist about there being no election for a new bishop and plans for a Caretaker Bishop when the current Bishop retires in October 2016. This constructively informs my intelligence that His Grace wishes west Ankole to have a caretaker Bishop.
The Banyanyankole have a common saying, “Ente ezimbire akatama tezibira zindi kunywa”, literally meaning that the fact that one cow is sick doesn’t deter others from drinking water. West Ankole Diocese has about 23 Archdeaconries, it is only the “kabwohe group” driving the care taker project whose ambitions need to be investigated and questioned preliminarily.
In law, there is a fundamental principle of the rule of natural justice expressed in a Latin phrase “Audi Alteram Partem”: the right of a party to cause not be condemned unheard embraces the whole notion of fair procedure and due process. This entails what two parties seek to find. On 9th of August 2016, the majority Christians took a fundamental decision not to accept a care taker Bishop because his being would not be justified. The English have a saying that, “He who wears a shoe knows where it pitches”, am sure it is only majority Christians who understand better how the majority Christians in West Ankole has been pushed at wall by the self-seeking group.
If it is true that Archbishopric embraces principles of unity, harmony and peace in Church of Uganda, its decisions should be subject to consulting the legitimate organs of West Ankole. The fundamental goal in west Ankole should be intention of defusing a potential crisis that will not reflect glory of God in the common mission of preaching the Gospel of salvation, witnessing to the lost, service to God’s people and unity of His Church. The future spirituality of the majority innocent Christians lie in the hands of His Grace, The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali.
BY EDGAR AYEBAZIBWE
The author is a law student at Uganda Christian University Mukono.