Blocked bishop-to-be sues Church of Uganda over cancelled consecration

Charles Okunya

The Ugandan priest whose election as the second Bishop of Kumi was nullified in February by that church’s House of Bishops has filed suit in the Kampala Civil Courts seeking reinstatement. In November the Rev. Charles Okunya Oode was Bishop of Kumi in succession to the Rt. Rev. Thomas Edison Irigei with a consecration date set for 29 Dec 2019. 

However, a petition was lodged by a lay group called the Concerned Christians of Kumi Diocese which alleged the bishop-elect had been unfaithful in his marriage and had sired children outside of wedlock.

The House of Bishops investigated the allegations, but overturned the election on 5 Feb 2020 when it discovered the new bishop was below the necessary canonical age.  In his letter to the Kumi Diocesan Chancellor the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, stated that the House of Bishops had reviewed Rev Okunya’s National Identity Card, NIRA records, passport, academic records from Uganda Christian University and those submitted by the diocese, during the vetting process and established that he was born on November 23, 1975, indicating that he was a year younger than the necessary age to become a bishop according to Article 13 of the church constitution.

In his 14 Sept 2020 pleading, Mr. Oode’s attorney said his client had been the victim of salacious gossip, which an investigation by the bishops found to be untrue. The pleading claimed he had a right to religious office, which had been unlawfully denied by the defendant, the trustees of the Church of Uganda.

The attorney for Mr. Oode further stated that his client had widespread support within the diocese, noting a petition by church members had garnered over 7000 signatures. 

A Church of Uganda spokesman declined to comment on the matter citing the pending litigation. Unofficial sources within the church, however, note Mr. Oode was not blocked for reasons of alleged misconduct, but because he was underage.