ARUA. The Catholic church of Arua has excommunicated over 400 Christians for allegedly not following the catholic doctrines.
Excommunication, according to the Roman Catholics, is the communion exclusion from the communion; it’s the principal and severest censure or spiritual penalty that deprives the guilty Christian of all participation in the common blessings of ecclesiastical society. It’s the highest penalty that a church can inflict on a guilty Christian.
The Christians were forced out of the church for attempting to reclaim the land on which Ediofe Cathedral, the headquarters of Arua Catholic Diocese sits.
The decision to excommunicate the Christians mainly from the three clans of Andruvu, Komite and Oruvu in Pajulu Sub County, Arua district was in March 2018 taken by Monsignor Kasto Adeti, the Parish Priest of Ediofe Cathedral Parish with guidance from his Pastoral Council members.
The news of the expulsion of the Christians from the church with their family members came to light when the aggrieved believers presented a copy of a joint reminder letter addressed to the Italian Catholic Mission Administration and management before journalists on Thursday.
In the letter dated May 11, 2018, the Christians under the chairmanship of Mr. Arua Alibino reminded the Italians and the Vatican State about the expiry of the 99 years period lease of their alleged 200 acres of land which is due on January 18, 2019.
“A humble notice on the approaching top limit (expiry date) of 99 years period of the lease set for our 200 acres of land to the Italian Catholic mission administration and management to use our customarily land now on which the Arua Diocesan Headquarters’ facility in Ediofe Cathedral Parish is sitting in Pajulu Sub County,” the letter reads in part.
“As the customarily owners of the land, we would like to know the future interest of the Italian Catholic Mission Administration and Management in the land,” the members added.
In the letter, the community also alluded to the decision taken by Monsignor Adeti to furiously excommunicate them from the Church.
They complained that Adeti stopped them from having all the Sacraments from the Baptism to the last as well as stopping all pastoral agents from entering any of their families for any religious functions of joy or sorrow among other things.
Mr Fedensio Wadri, one of the excommunicated Christians said their trouble started in March when they decided to drag the Diocese to Court for unpaid rent of their land in question.
He said it is on record that at first, 100 acres of the land was leased to the Italians on January 18, 1920 and later on April 11, 1932, another 100 acres was added all for a period of 99 years.
Wadri noted that the Italians were by then supposed to pay their grandparents 40 Ugandan shillings in two installments every year. He said the amount was slated to increase after every 30 years but the Italians never respected the agreement thus ending up not paying any money to date.
Mr Luiji Odama, the vice chairperson of the expelled Christians said they met Rt. Rev. Sabino Ocan Odoki, the Bishop of Arua Catholic Diocese ten times in an attempt to peacefully resolve the matter but all in vain.
“We wanted to reach a mutual understanding with the Church through our Bishop but when he showed no interest in having this matter resolved, we decided to go to Court and that is why we were excommunicated,” Odama stated.
He observed that Monsignor Adeti used the list of their members who signed on the Court document to base his excommunication on.
“He (Adeti) circulated our names to be read in all churches in the Parish and directed church leaders not to enter any of our families for any religious function including burying us and our children whenever we meet our death,” Odama said.
When contacted on the matter, Monsignor Adeti admitted to have 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 master minded by some people,” Adeti said during an interview in his office on Friday.
Adeti added that the problem now with the Christians emanated when he held a meeting with his Parish Pastoral Council in March this 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 these 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.
He however said at least more than 60 of the excommunicated Christians heeded to their call for apology and they have now been returned to the Church.
He 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.
But the Christians maintain that the parish is using excommunication to deter them from agitating from genuine demands which they said will not scare them.
Under the Canon law,the following offenses warrant excommunication as a result of a judgment from a church authority: Pretended celebration of the Holy Eucharist (Mass) or conferral of sacramental absolution by one not a priest and violation of confessional seal by interpreter and others.
But some excommunications, however, are automatic and without the intervention of the Church. Catholics are automatically excommunicated for committing these offenses: Procuring of abortion, Apostasy, Heresy, Schism, the rejection of the authority and jurisdiction of the pope as head of the Church, Desecration of Holy Communion, Physical attack on the pope,
Sacramental absolution of an accomplice in sin against the sixth and ninth Commandments, unauthorized episcopal (bishop) consecration and direct violation of confessional seal by confessor.