For today’s episode of the continuing coverup of abusive priests, we go to Uganda. Anthony Musaala is a popular priest, or rather he was a popular priest. He has been suspended indefinitely by the church; not for abusing children, but for exposing the fact that abuse exists in the African Church.
few African Catholics have questioned the assumption, voiced recently by Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, that the African church is purer than its counterpart in the West, which is regarded as secular and permissive.
Secularism and permissiveness have been blamed for the abuse scandal by the Vatican, so it is not surprising that this attitude would continue in Africa.
In March, he [Musaala] wrote to the archbishop of Kampala, Cyprian Lwanga, about priests who fathered children, kept secret wives or abused girls or boys, and called for a debate on marriage for priests.
One of the cases of abuse he cited involved himself. He was one of numerous boys sexually abused at 16, he says, by Catholic brothers at one of Uganda’s best boarding schools. He also alleged several other cases of child sex abuse in his letter.
“Wherever you go, people know about this. It’s like an open secret. People know. Nothing is ever done,” said Musaala in an interview.
For exposing the abuse and outing himself as a victim, he was rewarded by his superiors. Or Not.
The letter was leaked to the news media. And in response, Lwanga suspended Musaala, saying his statements stirred up contempt for the Catholic Church and damaged the morale of believers.
Later in the month, Lwanga acknowledged that abuses had taken place, apologized to victims and set up an internal inquiry. But he did not backtrack on Musaala’s unpaid suspension.
It’s not the abuse that affects the church, it is exposure.
Anyone who calls for these embarrassing secrets to be brought to light, placing the church in an awkward position, doesn’t get much sympathy from Uganda’s conservative churchgoers, even if the allegations are true. To traditionalists, what Musaala is doing is un-African.
In Uganda, what is African is the criminalization of homosexuality and the hiding of abuse by Catholics.
This new Pope has called for a crackdown on abusing priests and their enablers. Let’s see how he handles this Ugandan scandal.