Sheema Politicians Shun Archbishop Ntagali's Visit to West Ankole Diocese

3019 Views Sheema, Uganda

In short
Trouble between Bishop Katonene and his flock started after a section of Christians accused him of attempting to shift the Ankole Diocese University project from Kabwohe in Sheema to Katungu in Bushenyi district, delaying to apply for the university charter and financial impropriety.

Prominent Christians, political and civil leaders in Sheema district have skipped church services organized by Stanley Ntagali, the Archbishop of Church of Uganda to resolve their dispute with Mwesigwa Katonene, the Bishop of West Ankole Diocese. 

Ntagali is carrying out a nine days pastoral visit in West Ankole diocese, which is comprised of Bushenyi, Rubirizi, Sheema, Mitooma and Buhweju to resolve the two year misunderstanding. Trouble between Bishop Katonene and his flock started after a section of Christians accused him of attempting to shift the Ankole Diocese University project from Kabwohe in Sheema to Katungu in Bushenyi district, delaying to apply for the university charter and financial impropriety. 

The conflict climaxed when the Christians dragged Bishop Katonene to Mbarara high court. They also targeted and vandalized houses and property of clergy men posted by Katonene to several parishes in Sheema district. This prompted police to deploy heavily and protect all the clergy believed to be allied to the Bishop. Some of the prominent political leaders such as Yowasi Makaaru, Sam Kahindi, John Kateshumbwa and Rtd. Major Edward Rurangaranga mobilized Christians not to take their the Bishop and also barred him from visiting Sheema district.

The growing rift drew the attention of the Bishop to try and mediate between the two parties. Recently, Ntagali convened a two-day's pastoral visit in Kitagata and Ryakasinga Archdeaconries, but none of the disgruntled Christians showed up nor sent any apologies. According to a source, only Rosemary Nyakikongoro, the Sheema District Woman MP, Police Commissioner Laban Muhabwe and a few district officials from Bushenyi showed up.

Those who did not attend and have been instrumental in the rift are Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, state Minister for Health, the water and environment minister Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, Yowasi Makaaru, the former head of the Laity West Ankole Diocese, John Kateshumbwa and Sam Kahindi amongst others.

During the meeting Ntagali reportedly reminded Christians that the church belongs to God and not any priest or person adding that, God's institutions are not a battle ground. A Christian who spoke on condition of anonymity fears that, the Archbishop's intervention many not yield the desired results since those who pushed for the mediation have decided to stay away.

Juda Natamba, the communications officer West Ankole diocese says all disgruntled Christians were officially invited for the service but they didn't up for reasons well known to them. But Sam Kahindi, one of the lead petitioners says he didn't receive any invitation to attend the services with the Archbishop that is why they decided to stay away, adding that, there was no need of attending the services with the Archbishop because their grievances with the Bishop were not addressed in the much anticipated private meeting between the two parties


He says that, they are disappointed with diocese that made sure the Archbishop visits Christians in only two archdeaconries in Sheema where the bishop has support yet the rift between him and majority of Sheema christens is widely felt.