The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev Dr Samuel Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, has welcomed the decision of the high court dismissing the case in which Rev Charles Oode Okunya, sued the registered trustees of the Church of Uganda.
In a ruling pronounced at the High Court Civil Division in Kampala on June 30, Justice Ssekaana Musa dismissed the case, saying that the legal age of Rev Okunya did not qualify him to be eligible for elected as bishop in the Church of Uganda.
Justice Ssekaana ordered that, “For reasons stated herein this suit is dismissed with costs in favor of the defendants (The house of Bishops).”
Responding to this ruling, Kaziimba said: “This lawsuit has held the Diocese of Kumi hostage for more than a year and a half and has prevented them from moving forward.”
He said it was a great shame that Christians, especially clergy, take the Church to court.
“We encourage grievances to be resolved outside of the courts in the way Jesus commanded us. Kumi Diocese has been through a challenging season and it will take time for healing to occur.”
He also encouraged the various factions in the Diocese to accept the ruling and begin the process of reconciliation and healing.
Kaziimba expressed gratitude to the retired bishop of Kumi Diocese, Charles Odurkami, for his willingness to come out of retirement and serve as the caretaker bishop while the case awaited court ruling.
Rev Okunya was elected by the House of Bishops as the second bishop of Kumi Diocese on November 7, 2019. But after the election, it was discovered that his date of birth was falsified and that he was not actually 45 years old at the time of the election. The House of Bishops, therefore, nullified the election.
Rev Okunya ran to court seeking the reversal of the decision of the House of Bishops to nullify his election. He also requested the court to Order the defendant to consecrate and enthrone him as the second Bishop of Kumi Diocese.
According to the Constitution and Canons of the Church of Uganda, all persons seeking election to become bishop must have a minimum age of 45 years.
Following the ruling, the House of Bishops is expected to initiate a fresh process for the election of a new bishop of Kumi Diocese in due course.