Thursday, April 6, 2023

Uganda Catholic Church Playing Mute, Deaf, Dumb; A Pope Pius Moment


Uganda Catholic Church’s Pope Pius XII Moment

I love Uganda. Well, sort of.
They are my people; much sweeter because they reject me, a gay Ugandan. Kuchu. One of our national faults is a pride and conviction that we are unique, just because we are Ugandan. The world outside dares object? So what? [As Speaker Annet Among so eloquently stated], We believe we are blazing our own historical path, even when we are stumbling around repeating historical mistakes.

Take our collective, (characteristically Ugandan) homophobic madness.
Historically it is not new, nor unique. After all, the Sodomy laws currently on our statute books were inherited from the old British Empire, more than 60 years ago. And more than 90 years ago, the Fuhrer of Nazi Germany, Herr Hitler, had a vision. Eliminating the weak, to build a nation of the Strong. The weak were defined as ‘evil’ Jews, ‘defective’ mentally challenged individuals, ‘deviant’ homosexuals and political enemies, of course.
Hitler’s German mandated an open labelling of the weak in public; the yellow star for the Jew, the pink triangle for the homosexual. Thus openly identified, they were rounded up, taken to ‘concentration camps’, and killed, in the ‘Final Solution’.

What did the Church do, during that time of horror?
What brave words and actions of Christian love and compassion and charity were shown by the Church of Christ?

Pope Pius XII was the Pope during Nazi times. The Pope of the Era.

And, it was what Pope Pius did, or did not do, that has coloured his legacy.
What did the Pontiff know? What did he do about what he knew?
His deafening silence was certainly noted, after the madness of the Holocaust. Did he know that human beings were being carted off to death in huge camps? Was he silent because he feared for himself and the Catholic faithful? Or was he actually complicit, preferring not to know? Was he a secret Nazi sympathiser, sympathetic to what they were doing? [after all, the world at that time was definitely homophobic and anti-Semitic.] It’s quite natural to assume that the Pope, and the ‘Church Fathers’ could have been secretly sympathetic, in spite of the Church’s official message of love.

This is controversial. A controversy that has not yet been settled. Apparently, the Catholic Church, in typical Catholic Church fashion, had whitewashed Pope Pius XII.   But, questions were asked, and the opening of the archives has led to more questions.

“The long-awaited opening of Pope Pius XII’s wartime records lasted only a week before the coronavirus outbreak shut down the Vatican archives. But that was long enough for documents to emerge that reflect badly on the pontiff accused of silence during the Holocaust, according to published reports.” 

Fast forward to today. 2023.
An anti-homosexual bill in the Parliament of Uganda. A Homosexuals Death Bill. 
Not the first time, that was 2013-14. This is the second time. The first time, the bill was introduced with the Death clause, which was removed during debate. This time the ‘life imprisonment’ and death clauses were ‘enhancements’ during the Parliamentary marathon debate session on 21st March 2023.

Pope Francis has been quite vocal. He is asserts that, according to Catholic teaching [and he is the Pope], homosexuality is not a sin. But not a crime. And those who seek to make it a crime are mistaken, etc. 

Pope Francis is in Vatican, Rome. He is a frail old gentleman, 86. But, he is the Pope, and quite active.

And, the Catholic Church in Uganda? Believe it or not, they are yet to ‘study the bill’!!! 

Is this the Uganda Catholic Church’s Pope Pius moment?

The parallels between Pope Pius and the Catholic Fathers in Uganda are nothing less than striking. History literally repeating itself. Smacks of hypocrisy.

The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda met on 15th February 2023.
Its my humble speculation that it was that meeting that kicked off the official process. Uganda’s major religious leaders had met and determined that enough was enough. Uganda had to have an anti-homosexual bill, to solve all its gay problems. Details were reported here.

Curiously, there was no mention of a representative from Uganda’s Catholic Church; because the Catholic Church is not represented?
The Protestants, the Catholics, the ‘balokole’  and Moslems were all represented. Catholicism is the most populous religious denomination in Uganda. But, on the agenda was homosexuality. Didn’t get an invitation?

On 29th March, 2023 the Archbishop of the Diocese of Kampala came up with a statement. Apparently [curiously], the Catholic Fathers had not yet met to see the bill, and give their consensus statement. 

““Regarding what has come out of Parliament once we have the entire Bill, as Fathers of the Catholic Church we will come together to discuss that Bill and give the position of the Catholic Church in Uganda.””

Curious, curious, curious.
Is Rubaga (seat of the Catholic Church in Uganda) as far away as Rome is? Is bureaucracy in the Catholic Church in Uganda that cumbersome? That slow?
In the last couple of months, for an issue that has literally excited the attention in Uganda and beyond, formal and informal, were the Catholic Fathers totally absent from the country?

Why is the Catholic Church in Uganda playing Blind, Deaf and Dumb? I continue to ask!

Or is it because they have a Pope Francis problem? 
Hey, I am an interested but outside observer. I am allowed to ask, no?

I am quite, quite curious about what the contents and product of their markedly wise deliberations will be. They will be portent and powerful, full of Fatherly words of wisdom and compassion and love.
Of course, by then, [and I assume by intention], the debate will be done, the advice useless. The bill is passed, awaiting the President’s signature. It will get the signature. It will become law.

The perfect Pope Pius moment for the Catholic Church in Uganda.

Are we to assume that the mighty Catholic Church has been caught up and is helpless? Or, are they complicit, in silence as well as in actuality? Back seat fans?
We know major actors are Catholic faithful; Honourable Reverend Father Charles Onen who moved the bill’s first motion and House Speaker Among the bill’s Chief Whip. And of course, Speaker Among is rallying troops now, for the Great Anti-Homosexual War battles.

Frankly, in my biased view, the statement from Archbishop Ssemogerere, of the Kampala Diocese was explicit inits starkness   The Church has taken out the Pope Pius playbook, is reading and acting on it.
Instead of asking whether the Catholic Church in Uganda is having a Pope Pius moment, I am convinced that they are, and am speculating at what kind of treatment history will have of the Uganda’s Catholic Fathers of this moment.



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