Ugandan Priest Exposes Abuse Only to Get Suspended Without Pay

Father Anthony Musaala is called “the Dancing Priest” in the central and east African countries where he has earned a popular following as a gospel music performer. His music brims with joy, but he has deep concerns about the future of the Church he serves.

Now that a letter he wrote about those concerns was leaked onto the Internet, Musaala faces censure from his higher-ups in the Church and indefinite suspension from his priestly work.

Father Anthony Musaala

In March of this year, Musaala wrote a letter urging the Church to recognize “the failure of celibate chastity among diocesan priests.” In the letter, he alleged various violations of the Catholic rules governing priests’ sex lives: mistresses, trysts with nuns, prostitution, abortion, even coercion and rape. The problem in Uganda largely centers around assaults on female minors, he says, but he also acknowledges homosexual action of the kind North American audiences know far too well:

When I was at secondary school, it was common knowledge that various Brothers were having sexual activity with the boys. It was called ‘jaboo’. As a pubescent teenager, my first sexual encounter was actually with one of the brothers who invited me to his room on the pretext of doing some extra chemistry equations. I was sixteen at the time. Later I heard that several others had been through the same thing, with the same brother and with other ones. Some are still alive to this day.

Musaala took a risk in speaking up about these experiences; since 2009, he has faced accusations of homosexuality, which he has recently described as “unjust accusations and blackmail at the hands of the Archdiocese in Uganda.” Anyone who follows the state of LGBTQ rights internationally knows that such accusations are no small matter in Uganda, where the controversy over whether gays deserve the death penalty rages on. Leading African Catholic cardinals, like recent papabile Peter Turkson, continue to insist that priestly rape of Catholic boys is a white-people problem; same-sex desire is something that just doesn’t happen to Africans.

Even so, the Church went ahead and set up a commission to investigate the truth in Musaala’s accusations. However, they’re not exactly grateful to have their dirty laundry aired in public, even if it means children will be protected from abuse. Archbishop Kizito Lwanga decreed Musaala indefinitely suspended from his priestly duties (without pay, of course). The archbishop has publicly stated this of Musaala’s letter:

[It] damages good morals of Catholic believers and further expresses a wrong teaching against the Catholic Church’s teaching… This stirs up hatred and contempt against the Church. He incurs a Ferendae Sententiae penalty as prescribed by Can. 1314. This means that Father Anthony Musaala is suspended from celebrating sacraments and from the powers of governance in accordance to the law of the Church.

In other words, allegations of child rape against Catholic priests tend to make people think less highly of the faith. Thus, Musaala ends up saddled with a harsher penalty than the priest-rapists he’s accusing. It’s a clear message to the next priest who considers blowing the whistle on misconduct in his diocese: keep your mouth shut.

Musaala has made plans to travel in the U.S. and U.K. over the summer, hoping to find work in the West where he was educated. (Presumably his notoriety in Uganda precludes a successful job search there.) He continues to seek public support in an attempt to get his suspension overturned, calling on supporters to send petitions to Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the Vatican official overseeing his case, as well as to Archbishop Lwanga.

About Sara Lin Wilde

Sara Lin Wilde is a recovering Catholic (and cat-holic, for that matter - all typographical errors are the responsibility of her feline friends). She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she is working on writing a novel that she really, really hopes can actually get published.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Same story over and over in country after country, continent after continent.

    When oh when will Catholics (the vast majority of whom are normal, loving, ethical people) stop funding this Pedophilia ring?

  • Michael W Busch

    I am reminded of an opinion piece by Laurie Goodstein at the New York Times a few years ago. She argued that the Catholic Church in Asia and Africa was in general about thirty years behind the Church in North America and Europe in recognizing the extent of the problem.

  • RobMcCune

    [It] damages good morals of Catholic believers and further expresses a wrong teaching against the Catholic Church’s teaching…

    Teaching the facts about these cases is against the church’s teaching, you heard it straight from the archbishop’s mouth.

  • smrnda

    The guy’s doing the responsible thing; admitting there’s a problem with an organization he belong to and sharing his own experience. A responsible *organization* admits its problems, and would move on from this to address the problem, not punish the guy who spoke up.

    As far as this damaging the image of the church, they must just not be paying attention since it’s *covering up abuse*, not talking about it, that’s damaging their reputation.

  • Mario Strada

    Since I was born very near Vatican City, I am very familiar with the church. I am also familiar with the priceless works of art and the incredible architecture they enjoy.

    I can’t help but think Vatican city would make a great museum. A secular museum.

    Plus, if we turned the Vatican in a museum and concert hall (imagine baroque music concerts in St. Peter) we would gain the perpetual gratitude of every motorist in Rome, no longer forced to plan their errands based on the Pope’s schedule.

    I am also confident tourism would remain strong, especially in a city where we have water fountains that moved to the states would be declared a national monument.

  • McFidget

    Is the Catholic church actively trying to destroy itself? Because that’s what it looks like to me.

  • ShoeUnited

    “What’s that? You can still see daylight? You heard him boys, keep digging that hole.” -RCC

  • chicago dyke

    the most accurate, and most sad comment i can make to your comment is ‘no.’ the RCC is counting on what it has for centuries: fear, prejudice, hatred, and the lust for money and power. it’s worked for a long time. they have little reason to believe that will change now. and a lot of money and influence with which to suppress any trend that may correct that indictment of human idiocy.

  • RobMcCune

    No, this guy complaining about the church not following it’s own stated beliefs and rules undermines it’s authority. Power and authority are all they really care about, so they need to silence this guy, especially because he’s one of their own.

  • Mick

    (1) he has faced accusations of homosexuality
    (2) same-sex desire is something that just doesn’t happen to Africans.

    How does that work?

  • Hat Stealer

    Peope ask us why, when there’s so much child abuse around the world, we focus solely on the Catholic Church. Why hold the Church to a higher standard than the rest of the world? After all, we athiests don’t think it’s perfect.

    Because of shit like this. Because of the institutionalization of child rape. If any other group did this they would be prosecuted under federal anti-organized crime laws, and possibly for crimes against humanity. But not the Catholic church. It’s speecial. And that’s why we treat it as special.

  • Hat Stealer

    It’s happened before- every time a catholic official speaks out against the abuse they’re censored and punished. Every time. The Church is clear about its priorities- the Church comes first, everything else can get screwed (literally in many cases.)

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    If it were not the rcc it would be thought strange that they consider harming the reputation of the church to be a more serious matter than the rape of children. What a sick institution.

  • KeithCollyer

    to their credit, the Ugandan newspapers seem to be generally supportive of Musaala:

  • MD

    In the Catholic Church, if you molest a kid or sexual harass parishioners, you just get a new assignment. But if you speak against abuse, you get censured! Add that to no women priests and celibacy, and you’ve guaranteed that no decent guy will want to take holy orders.

  • Atheist for Human Rights

    “in Uganda, where the controversy over whether gays deserve the death penalty rages on.”

    But Muslims are so much more evil… right?

  • RobMcCune

    Your point?

  • Atheist for Human Rights

    read this blog lately?

  • RobMcCune

    Yeah, what blog have you been reading.

  • kaydenpat

    Disgusting but not surprising at all. He should leave the church.

  • Hugh Vincelette

    It should be noted that many of the priceless works of art & architecture were the creations of homosexual artisans with astonishing abilities., like Michelangelo.

  • Ndiwabene

    This may be a more widespread problem. Married males as well as single, Catholic as well as Protestant and Muslim, see the evidence.

    Baptists (not celibate)…/8150-clerg…

    Anglicans (not celibate) Study of Reported Child Sexual Abuse in the Anglican Church…/.

    Episcopalians (not celibate) Sexual Abuse in the Episcopal Church…/clergy episcopal-sex-abuse

    Hasidic Jews (not celibate) Hasidic Jews Still Have a Sex-Crime Problem — Daily Intelligencer May 2012

    Mormons (not celibate) The Growing Mormon Sex Abuse Scandal | Mormon Matters…/the-grow…

    Moslems (not celibate) BBC News – Stoke-on-Trent Muslim sexual abuse cleric jailed…/uk-england-s…Furthermore, the 2009 public allegations against Fr Musaala (and
    other priests) were not the first – others went through the official
    channels. He was then put under investigation. The Archbishop’s recent
    decisions following that process are the trigger for Fr Musaala’s

    FINALLY, see the film called Fr Anthony Musaala Scandal on YouTube or

    I cannot vouch for its accuracy but the producer says his father is called Alexander Basiima and in 2012 he gave his address as

    1 Lancefield House, Nunhead Lane Peckham Rye SE15 3UB London UK.

    I read your piece on Mubiru and there was a lot in it about his abuse
    of position.

  • Ndiwabene

    Your argument is logical, your facts may be lacking.