Tanzanian Cleric Who “Quit” Priestly Ministry to Run for Political Office Suspended
A Catholic Priest from Tanzania’s Diocese of Bukoba who quit his active Priestly ministry to vie for a political seat in the upcoming general elections in the East African nation has been suspended, his Bishop announced in a letter made available to the wider public August 3.
In the letter, Bishop Desiderius Rwoma reveals the Priest’s correspondence with him in which he announced his decision “to resign from the priesthood.”
“I am sorry to inform you that Fr. Ildephonce Katundu wrote me a letter to resign from the priesthood of his own free will and leave to go unnoticed without any discussion with me or my permission,” Bishop Rwoma of Bukoba has stated in letter dated July 24.
The Bishop adds in the letter addressed to members of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) in reference to Fr. Ildephonce, “So far he has no official residence where he is known to live. My efforts to contact him so far have failed.”
In the one-page letter obtained by ACI Africa, the 73-year-old Tanzanian Prelate reveals that Fr. Ildephonce had “announced his intention to run for the Nkenge Constituency Assembly (2020-2025),” an interest the Bishop did not approve of.
“Thus, I suspend him from providing priestly services in my Catholic Diocese of Bukoba and wherever he may be,” Bishop Rwoma has declared in the July 24 letter, basing his decision on Canon Law 285.3, which bars Clerics from running for and occupying political positions.
In the letter copied to TEC Secretary General, Fr. Charles Kitima, Bishop Rwoma further directs that Fr. Ildephonce “not be given asylum in the residence of priests and nuns.”
“Pray for the grace to enable him to make sacred reflections that will ultimately help him one day return and be one with us under Christ our Great Shepherd,” Bishop Rwoma concludes.
Fr. Ildephonce is reportedly among 52 candidates who sought nomination for the Nkenge Constituency Assembly ticket on Tanzania’s ruling party, “Chama Cha Mapinduzi” (CCM) toward the general elections set for October 28.
According to a local media report, he got zero votes during the party primaries held on July 11.
The Tanzanian Cleric joins his counterpart Fr. Charles Onen from neighboring Uganda who is, according to Uganda’s Daily Monitor, among the four candidates contesting for the Gulu East parliamentary seat in the 2021 general elections
In 2006, the Local Ordinary of Ugadan’s Catholic Diocese of Kotido suspended Fr. Simon Lokodo from active Priestly ministry after he vied for the parliamentary seat in Dodoth County.
Similar fate befell Fr. Jacinto Ogwal who was suspended by the leadership of Uganda’s Lira Diocese in 2011 after he expressed interest in vying for the parliamentary seat in Otuke.