By Richard Drasimaku
Arua diocese runs the risk of becoming bankrupt if corruption in church remains unchecked, bishop Sabino Ocan Odoki has warned.
“Yeah there are some corruption cases which we have found and they have blocked our ways of getting funding. Like with Caritas, there has been fraud and now we are paying very heavily for this fraud,” he said.
Odoki in an exclusive interview with the New Vision at his office said donors had demanded that the diocese returns all the stolen money.
“They have found sh85m stolen and again they want more investigations be done on another separate sh110m which the investigating auditor says could have been lost,” he added.
Odoki however assured Christians that concrete accountability and financial control systems were being instituted to combat graft.
The bishop also spoke about the various administrative changes he is making and the furious reactions from some affected clergy saying that they were normal processes of change.
The bishop said he was not worried about the threats by some priests to sue the diocese for what they perceive as mistreatment under his leadership.
Valentino Matua, a priest whom the bishop recently suspended pending verification of his documents of priestly formation on August 8, 2012 served Odoki with intention to sue and through Alaka and co. advocates demanded a compensation of sh120m for damages.
Odoki wondered why those priests complaining don't come to him or relevant diocesan offices instead of resorting to courts or the media with slanderous allegations.
“May be some of the priests themselves want to be bishops. There have been struggle in this diocese but I'm trying to handle the situation,” he said.
On the three priests languishing at Arua prison, Odoki advised them to spend more time praying in order to overcome the challenges facing them.
Those in prison are Fr. Santos Wapokura who is convicted and sentenced for defiling a 15-year old girl, Fr. Joseph Nyakuni jailed for failure to pay debt and Fr. Modesto Epima on remand on allegation of defilement.
“Those are some of the challenges we have and it's a sign of our broken society. We need to work together including the media to repair our situation,” he said.
Odoki meanwhile thanked the Christians of Arua diocese for being steadfast and supportive.
He said work on the expansion of Ediofe cathedral had been affected by financial difficulties but promised that the works could be finished by December when the diocese holds centenary celebrations to mark 100 years of the catholic faith in the area.
Odoki said the diocese plans to construct a pilgrimage centre at Indriani in Pakele parish, Moyo Vicariate in Adjumani district where the first missionaries to arrive in what was to become Arua diocese set foot.
The bishop also highlighted a number of measures the diocese is planning to roll out to fight poverty and joblessness among the youth.
These include production of wine, honey harvesting and vocational training for skills development.
Sh200m stolen from Arua Diocese