ARUA. The residents of Yapi village, Pokea parish, Pajulu sub-county in Arua district are in a sombre mood following the death of their colleague, also a member of the excommunicated Christians of Arua Catholic Diocese.

Primo Bule Luiji, 75, succumbed to Hepatitis B after a long ailment from Arua hospital on Sunday.

However, trouble started when his relatives attempted to invite the clergy attached to Ediofe Cathedral to come and send off their beloved one.

Instead, efforts to engage the clergy to come and bury the deceased on Tuesday yielded no results as the men of God turned down the invitation on grounds that Bule was against the Church.

Bule was among the over 400 Christians who were expelled from the Church in 2018 for dragging the Catholic Church of Arua to court in demand of rent arrears for over 100 hectares of land on which Ediofe Cathedral sits.

According to David Maliamungu, the spokesperson of the excommunicated Christians, while on his sick bed, Bule was approached by the Catechist of Ediofe Cathedral to apologize in writing about his action before the Church comes in to anoint him.

He said instead, Bule refused to apologize on grounds that he didn’t commit any crime before God for demanding the rent arrears of his father’s piece of land.

“It is for this reason that the Church refused to bury him and as a result, we were left with no option other than laying him to rest on our own,” said Maliamungu.

Maliamungu noted that unfortunately, shortly after Bule’s demise, another member of the same community also died on Monday.

He said Willy Asea, a resident of Andruvu village, Komite parish in Pajulu sub-county also succumbed to Hepatitis B from Arua hospital.

Maliamungu said signs are equally clear that Asea will not be buried by the Church on Wednesday because the officials of Ediofe Cathedral had already directed choir members not to step at the funeral place of the deceased.

Maliamungu noted that since their expulsion from the Church, so far six people including children have died among the excommunicated Christians and buried locally without the service of any man of God.

Reports indicate that the community of Andruvu, Komite and Oruvu clans to which the deceased locals subscribe to in Pajulu sub-county claims that the land in question was leased to the Italian Catholic Missionaries by their grandfathers in 1920 for a period of 99 years which expired on January 31, 2019.

Records indicate that the Italians were by then supposed to pay their grandparents 40 Ugandan shillings in two instalments every year which was not done to date.

It is for this background that Monsignor Kasto Adeti, the Parish Priest of Ediofe Cathedral Parish decided to excommunicate the Christians from the Church.

In an earlier interview, Monsignor Adeti admitted to having excommunicated the Christians for turning against the Church.

“The issue now with these Christians is that they wrote a letter here with so many people who signed that they want their land back but I think they are masterminded by some people,” Adeti said.

Adeti added that the problem now with the Christians emanated when he held a meeting with his Parish Pastoral Council in March last year.

He said in the meeting, the Council resolved that; “if these are genuine Christians then they would not say we don’t need the Church here. If you say you don’t need the church here, how come that you continue receiving sacraments?

“So we only said if your name is here on the list, unless you come and ask for forgiveness, we shall not now deal with you otherwise, you would be pretending to say that I’m sick; you come to anoint me when at the same time, you don’t need the Church here,” Adeti said.

Adeti argued that much as the land in contention was leased to the Italians, it since turned to be a property of the Church which is now in advance stages of turning it into freehold.