They wrote that Ameyu “will not be accepted to serve as Archbishop of Juba under any circumstance.”
The situation calls to mind that in the Diocese of Ahiara, where a December 2012 appointment of a bishop from a neighboring diocese was rejected by the people of Ahiara. The Mbaise ethic group whom the Ahiara diocese serves objected that the new bishop was not Mbaise. That episcopal installation was performed outside the Ahiara diocese because of protests, and while Pope Francis in 2017 demanded the acceptance of the appointment, the rejected bishop’s resignation was accepted early in 2018.
The letter from clerics and laymen of Juba indicated that they had written to the congregation Dec. 10 asking for “dialogue over the serious allegations raised against Bishop Stephen Ameyu.”
“Given the genuine concerns based on the legitimate issues cited in our memo, we had honestly expected the suspension of the announcement, until further investigation can be conducted on the matter,” they wrote.
“Now that the misled Vatican has arrogantly ignored our concerns by choosing the path of undue confrontation, we have no other option than to respond with proportional means.”
According to the letter-writers in Juba, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen, apostolic nuncio to South Sudan and Kenya, “has dismissed the allegations brought against Bishop Stephen Ameyu and put the whole blame on Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro.”
Detailing a “series of conspiracies and briberies by some determined interest groups and lobbyists both inside and outside Juba”, the group said they have “substantial evidence that the Nunciature in Juba was heavily compromised by some officials from the government of South Sudan from its inception up to date.”
The letter’s signatories said that Msgr. Mark Kadima, the Vatican's chargé d'affaires in South Sudan who was appointed last year, was given money and goods “to gain leverage over him,” and that they have evidence “some high profile politicians influenced the process by ruling out some of our candidates and worked to promote Bishop Stephen Ameyu.”
The group also wrote that they have evidence that some of the priests of Juba, “who are also polygamists, businessmen and senior government security personnel” worked to manipulate Msgr. Kadima to support Ameyu “who would … protect their personnel [sic] interests.”
These priests, the concerned clerics and laymen charged, divided several senior positions in the archdiocese, including vicar general, among themselves Dec. 8.
Secondly, the letter asks, “Who among our priests in Juba can be appointed bishop anywhere?”
It charges that priests from Juba were passed over for episcopal appointments in Yei in 1986, and recently in both Rumbek and Torit.
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“Should we understand that the Vatican listens only when there are real violent threats attached,” they asked. “Otherwise, we still find it inexplicable why and how the local church of Juba, already blessed with over 30 local priests who have excelled in their pastoral, administrative and academic experience should be humiliated by getting a Bishop who has two concubines and six biological children. How can our mother Church go for this Bishop when some of our priests were disqualified on unfounded rumours of fathering only one child?”
Finally, the letter says that Ameyu's having fathered at least six children “is common knowledge and does not need much prove [sic].” They charge that he has a concubine in Gudele, located just outside Juba.
The concerned people of Juba wrote that they are “a generous and hospitable people … kind hearted and straightforward people who do not tolerate any form of humiliation. We take long to react but once the gloves come off, it becomes difficult to calm things later.”
They maintained that their opposition “should not be misinterpreted as tribalism,” saying they have “no objection in having a bishop from outside the Archdiocese,” noting that most of their bishops have not been indigenous.
“Therefore, it should be the question of being Bari or none [sic] Bari, but rather appointing a good priest with right qualifications,” they wrote.
The Bari an ethnic group who are centered in Juba.