The Bari Community Association issued its statement after letters of protest were sent to the Vatican, protesting the appointment of Ameyu as archbishop. One letter, sent Dec. 12, was signed by three priests and five laymen, who identified themselves as "community elders," and were widely understood to be presenting themselves as Bari tribal leaders. Their letter gave three reasons for opposing the appointment, charging that government officials and some Juba priests had conspired to promote Ameyu as archbishop for personal interests, and had influenced a Vatican diplomat to that end; that a local priest could have been appointed; and alleging that Ameyu has fathered at least six children.
The letter said that Ameyu "will not be accepted to serve as Archbishop of Juba under any circumstance."
The letter writers said 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," and 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.
In their Dec. 12 letter, the protesters added that they are "not questioning or interfering with the prerogative of the Holy Father to appoint bishops," but are "only against the manipulation and the buying of the process by politicians and other interest groups.
"We are against a person brought from outside just to promote personal interests while maliciously leaving out the qualified sons of this land," they wrote. But leaders of the Bari ethnic group said the Dec. 12 letter "sparked a lot of reactions in the social media with many negative references labelling the Bari Community as tribalistic community just because those who appended their signatures to the letter happen to come from the Bari tribe."
"To be clear, they have neither sought the opinion of the Bari on the subject under reference nor have they (been) delegated to do so," the Baric Community Association's Dec. 23 statement said. "No Bari will speak on behalf of the Bari Community except when mandated by its leadership and as guided by the BC Constitution," the statement added.