A popular Ugandan priest has been ostracized from the Catholic Church after exposing what he calls an 'open secret'-- the rampant sexual abuse of children by clergy members.
Earlier this year, Ghanian cardinal and papal candidate Peter Turkson raised eyebrows when he told CNN that the international clergy sex abuse scandal couldn't happen in Africa because "African traditional systems kind of protect... its population against this tendency" and "in Africa homosexuality... [is] not countenanced in our society."
But one African priest strongly disagrees. Anthony Musaala, a gospel music star known as the "Dancing Priest," has been publicizing sex abuse among clergy in his native Uganda. In doing so, he's forcing the country's Catholic Church to confront an ugly epidemic that it says doesn't exist.
The Los Angeles Timesreports that Musaala is paying a heavy price for his crusade against abusive clergy. In March, he was suspended indefinitely by Cyprian Lwanga, the Archbishop of Kampala, to whom he'd written about priests who not only sexually abused children but who also fathered children and kept secret wives. Musaala also called for a debate on whether priests should be allowed to marry.
According to Lwanga, Musaala "damaged the good morals of Catholic believers and further expressed a wrong teaching against the Catholic Church's teaching."
"The Vatican turns a blind eye because it doesn't want to be embarrassed," Musaala told the Los Angeles Times. "But I think it's time we had the truth."
For Musaala, the truth is very personal. He says that he was one of many boys who were sexually abused by Catholic brothers at a church-run boarding school, one of the finest in the country. And he says that what happened to him is by no means unusual.
"Wherever you go, people know about this," Musaala told the Times. "It's like an open secret. People know. Nothing is ever done."
Musaala also believes it is important to distinguish between homosexuality and same-sex clergy sex abuse.
"I'm not a victim of homosexuality, I'm a victim of child sex abuse," he told NBS.
Archbishop Lwanga eventually admitted that clergy sex abuse is a problem in Uganda, apologized to victims and ordered in internal inquiry.
"Catholics should not get scared about what Father Musaala said because God will help us overcome it," Lwanga said in an Easter message. But Lwanga also said that the findings of the abuse inquiry would not be made public and that the church would deal with the matter internally. And despite Lwanga's admission, Musaala remains suspended without pay.
"The gloves are off," Musaala told blogger Melanie Nathan. "I've had enough and I think that some hard truths are coming out. "Lines are being drawn for this battle against [clergy] abuse and the power abuse of the Catholic hierarchy."