ZAMBIA: Sex Scandals Rock Anglican Church
By Martin Nyirenda
June 25, 2013
The Church has come into the spotlight not for all the good reasons, it has been marred by sex scandals with reports of brothers duping sisters all in the name of prophecy and defilement cases occurring right in the grounds of worship.
Thus this has cast some doubts on some people as to whether the Church still remains that holy sanctuary which is expected to be the custodian of the moral values where every troubled soul can run to seek solace.
Not too long ago a Kabwe housewife recounted in a magistrate's court how a prophet allegedly raped her in the process of being prayed for.
The woman recounted before Kabwe resident magistrate Jennifer Bwalya that on the fateful day she travelled to Kasavasa area to meet the prophet, who was in the company of another person for prayers.
In this case, Anthony Musoka was slapped with a charge of rape.
It is alleged that the accused person on March 14, had carnal knowledge of the woman without her consent.
The victim recounted that two prophets went to Kasavasa area where they camped for a week and that it was during that time that her friend informed her about the personal prayers being conducted.
She wanted personal prayers because she had issues with her menstrual cycle for which she needed spiritual intervention and when she arrived at the scene, she found a lot of people waiting to be attended to.
When it was her turn, she met the accused person who was with another prophet identified as Stanley Chikwepele.
She alleged that Musoka later told her that for her problems to be healed, she needed to bring with her clothes, a chicken, KR10, 2.5 litres empty container and body lotion.
She revealed that Musoka also asked her to cut off the middle toe of the chicken and put the dripping blood in a container and was also asked to add water to the blood and go to a maize field where the purported payers were to be held.
When they got to the field she asked the prophet if they could stop so that he could pray for her but he refused and insisted on moving on to a particular point where he made her to kneel while holding a chicken.
She said the prophet later poured the blood stained water on her and started praying for her and that in the process, the accused pushed her to the ground and undressed her and had carnal knowledge of her.
She reported the ordeal and the matter to the police and her husband.
Another witness, Felistus Ngamba, testified that two prophets came to her area to conduct prayers and was shocked to learn that one of the prophets had raped the woman in question.
Trial has continued and the magistrate adjourned the matter to a later date.
Why indeed does the sin of a priest create more fuss?
A fissure recently erupted at St Peters' Anglican Church in Kitwe's Chimwemwe area between members and their priest, Father Richard Luonde.
Fr Luonde was accused using church funds to finance outspoken cleric Fr Frank Bwalya's political aspirations.
Enraged Church members locked the church after the dispute that divided the congregation.
The anti-Fr Luonde camp accused the priest of allegedly indulging in adultery activities with married women in the congregation.
Little wonder Catholic priest-cum-politician Frank Bwalya says he would not arrest those practicing homosexuality if he is elected Republican President.
Fr Bwalya says he would respect homosexuals because the Catholic Church respects every individual.
The clergyman-cum politician said this when he addressed journalists in Johannesburg, South Africa at the invitation of Open Society Initiative of South Africa (OSISA) recently: "I will not arrest homosexuals but respect them if I was given an opportunity to run the country."
The details that follow, no doubt, will be wearily familiar to any witness of the abusive scandals that have rocked the Catholic church in recent decades.
Colm O'Gorman was 14 years old when Father Sean Fortune arrived unannounced at his parents' house in a small town in southern Ireland. The priest was given tea and a seat by the fire, and asked the teenager to help set up a youth group.
"I was 14, and very eager and hungry to be out in the world, involved in things, doing things, making a difference. And that's what he exploited," said O'Gorman, now 46 and the executive director of Amnesty International in Ireland.
The abuse that followed, culminating in Fortune's repeated rape of the boy, was part of one of the greatest scandals ever to hit the Catholic Church, damaging the curtailed papacy of Pope Benedict and posing a huge challenge to whoever succeeds him.
O'Gorman's story is just one in a worldwide scandals that destroyed lives, bankrupted dioceses, and in many cases cost the Church its most precious asset: faith.
Fortune took O'Gorman to his isolated house for the weekend. Such was the Church's power in Ireland at that time where no one would query a priest.
That was the first time Fortune sexually assaulted O'Gorman. Driving him back to his parents the next day, the priest stopped the car around the corner from the teenager's home.
"There were no words that I had that could explain what had happened, and I was terrified," O'Gorman recalls.
"He said to me: 'I'm worried about you, you have a problem. Either I can tell your parents, or you can come back down to me again.'
"He kept coming and taking me away, for nearly three years."
Fortune's attacks became increasingly violent and escalated to rape.
O'Gorman, depressed and suicidal, finally fled his hometown. He became homeless on the streets of Dublin.
It took a decade for O'Gorman to re-establish contact with his family and explain what had happened. With their support, he made a report to the Irish police in 1995.
"Within weeks, I heard from the detective who had started the case that they had found another five victims," O'Gorman said.
The investigation revealed a bully priest who manipulated and abused people wherever he went, and a Church hierarchy that, after receiving complaints about him, moved him on to places where he found new victims: a pattern that recurred in its handling of abuse cases worldwide.
Fortune killed himself in 1999 while on trial for 66 accounts of assault and rape of boys.
Though there was little legal precedent, O'Gorman took a civil suit against the Diocese of Ferns and Pope John Paul in 1998, in which he cited evidence that Fortune's crimes were well known but that the Church did nothing to limit his access to children.
The diocese apologised in 2003 and paid O'Gorman 300,000 euros ($389,500) in compensation.
In a dramatic illustration of the loss of faith in the church, Ireland - where Catholicism was written into the constitution and had enormous influence throughout the 20th century - closed its embassy to the Holy See in 2011 as relations hit an all-time low.
The sexual abuse crisis and its continuing repercussions on the Church was likely one of the difficulties Benedict referred to when he became the first pontiff in centuries to abdicate, saying he no longer had the strength to continue.
In 2007, the archdiocese of Los Angeles, which serves 5m of the faithful across three southern Californian counties, agreed to a settlement worth $660m with 508 plaintiffs in a vast civil case.
The details remained secret. But on January 31, by court order, the archdiocese published 12,000 pages of personnel documents on 122 priests accused of sexual abuse in cases dating back to the 1940s.
Nigel Mapulanga, the 77-year-old grandfather of ten grandchildren, says it is absurd that strange things are happening in the corridors of the church.
"I am not surprised with what is happening in the church and among church elders because we even have cases where some of them were practicing witchcraft, running away with married women and young girls as old as their own grandchildren. It is strange but it is there in the Bible where it is said that 'strange things that would be happening in the world would signify the end of the world," Mr Mapulanga, the supposedly memory bank, told me from his farm house in Misundu in Ndola.
The Catholic Church says Nseluka Catholic Parish Priest Victor Mukuka in Malole Constituency in Mungwi District counsels Zambians to strongly denounce and reject wicked morals that could stain the country's known principle of being a Christian nation.
He said, "It is important for us Zambians not to be forced to accept things that are not of our Christian values because we declared our country as a Christian nation.
"We are known to be a Christian nation and we need to follow proper Christian values."
The scandal of the Church is a sin that will always make the news.
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