Brave Father Musala

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Brave Father Musala

This priest said there was a lot of sex abuse in the Catholic Church in Uganda. So he was sacked and people said he was gay. Patience Akumu talked to him in Kampala.

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‘We have to fight against injustice,’ says Father Musala. (© redpepper.co.ug)

Father Anthony Musala went from England to Uganda. He was born in Uganda, but has Irish nationality. He became a priest and wanted to make changes. He shocked conservative African Catholics when he made a music video and danced in his priest’s clothes.

‘They had never seen that before,’ Musala, now 57, remembers. ‘They thought a priest should be quiet.’

At first, many people came to see his lively, passionate church services. But some people were worried. In Uganda, there is a lot of homophobia, but Musala said gay people were welcome in his church. He spoke openly about sexual abuse of boys and girls by Catholic priests (and he said they had secret wives and children). He was a counsellor, so he knew about a lot of abuse.

Last year, Musala wrote to the Archbishop of Kampala, Cyprian Lwanga. He asked him to investigate sexual abuse. He said it would become a big problem for the church in Uganda as it had been in Europe. He also said it would be a good idea for the Catholic Church to change the rules on celibacy, to allow priests to get married.

After this, the authorities made him leave his job and said he was homosexual. The Archbishop said that the priest’s letter was against the morality of the Church and the people who went to church. But Musala says that the Church and the State are talking about homosexuality so they do not have to talk about the sex abuse of the priests.

‘They are supporting injustice. They do not understand the abuse,’ he says. He suffered abuse himself when he was 16, in a Catholic school. ‘They do not support the victims of abuse.’

Many people praised Musala for speaking out. They hoped it would lead to a proper investigation. But then everyone started talking about Musala’s sexuality.

‘They asked me on television if I am gay. But this is a country that wants to put gay people in prison for life.’

Like many countries in Africa, Uganda still has the old British colonial laws which make homosexuality a crime. And a new law, last December, has increased the punishment. At first, the Catholic Church in Uganda had not supported the bill. They said it was against Catholic teaching. But later, together with the Orthodox and Anglican Church, it supported the bill.

US evangelists made more people anti-gay. Musala says it was the US evangelists who first started saying homosexuality is bad, after a lesbian wedding in Wandegeya – a small Ugandan town with a lot of night life – in 1999.

‘Two women had a ceremony. They went to the street and people were very interested. They were not homophobic (anti-gay) like they are today.’

But Solomon Male and Martin Ssempa (anti-gay pastors), went to the media. They said that gay people would destroy Africa.

‘That is when they began to say that gay people were getting money from Americans; that they were sick and they needed help.’ Musala says that the subject of celibacy is very sensitive in Uganda because top Catholic leaders have had children. He says this is because of Africa’s culture; they see women only as machines that make babies.

‘They feel like they too should get a woman to have a child with. It does not matter [to them] if she is under-age.’

Musala says it is not good that the Church says some things are bad in Uganda (for example, not having political rights), but the Church also does similar bad things.

Musala asked the Vatican to help get his job back but he has had no reply.

He is desperate, so he travelled to London to ask the Archdiocese of Westminster (where he became a priest), to help. Or to give him a job, not even as a priest, so he can pay for his food and life. But he got no help, as they are afraid that this might affect the decision at the Vatican.

‘There is a lot of silence in the church. Westminster could not say anything, even if what the Catholic Church in Uganda is doing would not be allowed in England,’ he says. ‘In England they had to speak only because the church was sued for similar problems.’

Musala returned to Uganda but looking for his justice has made him tired and uncertain.

‘I do not know where to go. I do not know what to do. Do you think the civil courts can help me?’ he asks.

But he will not stop. Even when Ugandans say he is making criticisms because he is under the power of other countries.

‘We must fight against injustice. I am African. I belong here.’

Abuse in the Catholic Church

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4,000 children abused by Catholic clergy (investigations by the Vatican) between 2002 -12. (Daily Mail)

$3 billion paid by US Catholic Church after sex abuse cases. (BishopAccountability.org)

4% of Catholic priests in the US sexually victimized minors in the past 50 years.* (Psychology Today)

*This is similar to other religions – and no more than teachers or men in general. But Catholic institutions do not talk about it and try to hide it.

Another similar story:

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Father Patrick Lawson is a Scottish Catholic priest who has been fighting for 17 years. He is trying to get the Church to take action against another priest who sexually abused him. He told the newspapers that the priest abused boys in the church, but then Lawson lost his job. The people from his parish (the area of his church) were very angry. More than 200 people signed a petition asking for him to get his job back. And there was support from other priests. Father Gerard Magee wrote to the representative of the Pope in London, supporting Father Lawson. ‘It is very bad, what they are doing’ he wrote. He believes that Father Lawson lost his job as a punishment for revealing information. ‘They’re trying to get rid of him because he’s a whistleblower. A lot of priests don’t like him because he spoke out. I don’t understand why some priests want to protect the criminal not the victim.’

Father Lawson is taking this to court.

Source: Observer September and December 2013

Patience Akumu is an award-winning Ugandan journalist. She lives in in Kampala and specializes in social issues.

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: http://newint.org/features/2014/04/01/brave-father-musala/

(This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).

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