By Aluma Clement
Arua-The council of Ediofe Catholic parish has threatened to excommunicate over 200 Christians from the parish if they don’t withdraw a case they filed against trustees of the diocese over expiry of the lease on which the parish and the diocesan headquarters is located.
On Sunday, the announcer was shut down during the first mass by an angry Christians as he tried to read the names of those who would be affected. The three clans of Andruvu, Komite and Oruvu under the chairmanship of Albino Arua, say that the lease agreement of 87 years, is about to expire in 2019 and the diocese has not compensated them neither has it expressed interest in renewing the lease.
“We have been denied audience to meet the bishop for more than ten times over this issue of our land, the first review of the agreement was supposed to have taken place in 1956, it never took place, the second was supposed to have been in 1986 but they all failed to take place and our patience is running out” Arua said.
“A yearly rent of shillings 40 payable shall yearly in advance on every first day of January and every first day of July subject to revision on the first day of July 1956 and the first day of January 1986” the agreement signed between the locals and Italian missionaries in 1932 reads in part.
The communities, through their lawyer Richard Bundu of Alaka and company advocates now want compensation yet to be determined because they claim that their hired valuers were denied access by the defendant to value the 200 acre land.
“That threat of excommunication is illegal and unlawful because it violates their constitutional right of freedom of worship, it does not matter whether these people go to the same church, and all they want is to be compensated, the church is not a place of revenge, it’s a place of reconciliation and peace-making,” Bundu said. One of the affected Christians at St Bhakta chapel said they were being coerced by catechists to withdraw their signatures if they want to be re-united with mother church.
“They tell us that our children will not be baptized and that no religious function will be performed in our homes even funerals if we don’t withdraw the case. The defendant, represented by Michael Ezati of Madira and Company advocates admits in his defense that the land historically belonged to the plaintiffs which was acquired by the Italian missionaries but says the church has established itself on it. Court is yet to set hearing date.
The parish priest Monsignor Castor Adeti could not be reached as his known phone has been off but his curate Fr Sabino Diku declined to comment about the matter saying he was not in position to speak about it.