Dec 29, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — A man of cloth has rejected a court ruling that stayed the defrocking and appointment of any successors pending a final verdict on 5th January 2021 following the ongoing dispute in the leadership of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan (ECSS).
ECSS split following the August defrocking of Bishop Reuben Akurdit of the church’s Jonglei internal province by Archbishop Badi.
Some members welcomed the defrocking while the other insisted the defrocking over alleged canonical disobedience and misconduct was nonprocedural.
Those in favour of Akurdit went to the High Court in Juba to challenge his removal.
Archbishop Justin Badi Aram, rejected a high court ruling saying that the court should not meddle in church issues noting that the church in question has got its constitution which should be followed for the appointments, suspension and dismissal of those who disobey the church’s rules.
“Such court decisions are incorrect. Church administrative issues have nothing to do with courts. Appointments, suspensions, and dismissals of people are done within the ECSS constitution, so they do not require courts. Never before had it happened that people consult courts for dismissals or reinstatements of priests,” Archbishop Badi said in an interview.
According to the Archbishop, any decisions would be taken by the church and its committee.
“Any decision is taken by the church and its committees. Leadership dispute exists no more in Jonglei. In November, a successor for the person defrocked on August was brought,” he stressed.
He urged the faithful to desist from violence and embrace God’s words.
Maluak Philip, the secretary for the ECSS-Akurdit faction, welcomed the court decision, saying they sought a settlement to the dispute outside the ECSS because the church leadership has been acting unilaterally.
The act of the church seeking settlement in court has been described by a renowned Juba lawyer as shameful.
“We know the defrocking of Akurdit by the church leadership was purely administrative, and I believe it was within the ECSS laws. But Akurdit insisted he was wrongly removed. Badi is the head of the ECSS, he can remove anyone within his mandate,” Anyang Philip Ngong said.
“But if anyone thinks they have been wrongly removed, they should complain through the church councils, rather than the High Court. What has been happening is shameful. And as a member, I had to pull out a year ago.”
According to an activist in Bor, ECSS has a tribunal which should have handled the dispute.
“There is a provision for an ECSS tribunal within the ECSS constitution. The tribunal is the right avenue to handle any dispute. What I know is that the Court will throw out the case. Article 8 of the constitution separates the state from religion. No one has authority over the church,” Bol Deng Bol said.