Uganda: Archbishop Wants ‘Christian Courts’ Recognized

Kampala — Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga has called for an amendment to Uganda’s constitution to give Christian churches some mandate to resolve marital disputes, the same way it recognizes Muslim Khadi courts.

He cited inconsistencies in the law, which recognises Uganda as a secular state in Article 7, yet it provides for the role of Khadi courts in resolving marital issues, under Article 129 (1)(d).

“We appeal for an amendment of that Article so that our courts are recognised. I have no problem with the Khadi courts being recognised. But we also have our courts which should appear in the constitution, because we are part and parcel of this country,” Lwanga said.

He made the remarks during mass held at Old Kampala Secondary School playground, shortly after leading a procession of Christians performing the way of the cross on Friday.

Lwanga said clerics under the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) had formally written to the Speaker of Parliament, to express their concerns about the contentious marriage and divorce bill.

“As religious leaders we are saying the title of the bill should be: ‘Marriage and the Family,’ because people don’t marry to divorce. They marry to stay together and make a family,” Lwanga stated.

The religious leaders are also opposed to a proposal that confers marriage upon couples if they have cohabited for ten years or more.

“According to us religious leaders, cohabiting is a sin. If you recognise it, you are promoting sin to a status of marriage.”

Lwanga likened the experience to a thief who steals bananas from one’s garden every year, and after ten years, claims ownership of the garden.

“Does it make sense? No is doesn’t. Let us take marriage seriously, keeping in mind all the stakeholders, our respective cultures and those of faith-based organisations,” he said.

The clergyman lauded Parliament for not passing the bill in haste, and allowing for wider consultations on its clauses.

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