Kampala, Uganda

The retired Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda, the Rt Rev Stanley Ntagali, has publicly confessed to committing adultery with a married woman and asked the Lord, the church and Ugandans to forgive him.

“I gave my life to Jesus Christ as a young man on the Christmas eve of 1974. I still love Jesus Christ because He has loved me and I would love to serve him for all the years. Sadly, I fell into the sin of adultery. I confess to the Lord and the Church to forgive me, my dear bishops and partners,” Ntagali, the eighth Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, said at an event last Thursday. 

He added that he wanted "to continue on that solid rock focusing my life on eternity because worldly pleasures end and one day I will have to stand before the Lord."

Uganda Retired Archbishop Stanley Ntagali left and his successor Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu

Retired Archbishop Stanley Ntagali (left) and his successor, Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu at a public function recently. PICTURE: John Semakula.

Ntagali, who until 1st March, 2020, was the primate of the Anglican Church of Uganda, made the public confession during the thanksgiving ceremony organised by the church to mark 60 years of independence from the Church of England. 

The ceremony held at the provincial headquarters at Namirembe in the capital Kampala was attended by dozens of bishops of the Anglican Church and other high-profile Ugandans.

The sexual scandal involving Archbishop Ntagali first came to light on 13th January, when the current Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, issued a statement suspending him from performing any sacramental function, preaching and representing the Church of Uganda in any way until further notice.

In the statement, Kaziimba noted that Archbishop Ntagali had been involved in an extra-marital affair with a married woman, which he had acknowledged. 

“This adultery is a grievous betrayal on many levels. Retired Archbishop Ntagali has betrayed his Lord and Saviour, his wife and their marriage vows, as well as the faith of many Ugandans and Global Christians who looked to him to live the faith he proclaimed," he said. "He has also betrayed the office of Archbishop, his ordination vows, and the moral commitments he championed.”

Kaziimba assured the Anglican Church that Ntagali’s suspension was a sign of a season of “Business Unusual". He said the church was committed to transparency as well as pastoral care for those who had been affected by the situation. 

He asked Archbishop Ntagali and other Christians who may had fallen short of the church’s moral commitment to the marriage vow to go before the Lord in prayer and confess their sins, repent of their ways and make restitution to those they have hurt. 

Since his suspension, retired Archbishop Ntagali had not come out publicly until last Thursday to issue any statement related to the accusations. At one point, he even denied a post on his Twitter handle apologising to the church for the scandal. 

During the service, Ntagali also apologised to Rev Christopher Tugumehabwe. Ntagali had an affair with Tugumehabwe's wife, Judith.

“I apologise to Rev Christopher and his wife, Judith. I want to remain closer to Jesus,” he said. 

Ntagali now awaits a pronouncement from the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Uganda on whether he is to resume his role as a clergyman. 

Many ordinary Ugandans and clergy welcomed Ntagali’s confession and apology. Archbishop Kaziimba embraced Ntagali when he made his confession, attracting applause from the congregation which then burst into song, singing Tukutenderaza Yesu (We praise you Jesus). The Archbishop then cited I John 1: 8, saying "When we say we have no sins, we are deceiving ourselves. But when we confess our sins to the almighty God, He is just and forgives us of our ineptitudes.

Thursday’s thanksgiving ceremony was led by George Katwesigye, retired Bishop of Kigezi Dioceses in Western Uganda, who called upon Christians to continue giving support to the church. 

The Anglican Church of Uganda broke away from the Church of England a year before Uganda achieved independence from Britain on 9th October, 1962. It was on 16th April, 1961, that Bishop Leslie Brown, then Bishop of the Diocese of Uganda, was enthroned at St Paul’s Cathedral, Namirembe, as the first Bishop of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire. At the time, the Church of Uganda had eight dioceses formed from the five regions in the Diocese of Uganda and three in the Diocese of the Upper Nile region.

The Church of Uganda is now governed by a Provincial Assembly that consists representatives in the House of Bishops, House of Clergy and the House of Laity. The House of Bishops elects and installs its own Archbishop from among the bishops to lead and guide the church.

Celebrating its 60 years of independence, the church has unveiled three key targets under its strategic plan: increasing church membership by at least 25 per cent, ensuring that 60 per cent of the church membership are saved and confessing Christians; and to have church leaders (bishops, clergy and laity) identifying and relying on spiritual gifts of members for ministry.

The church considers the declaration of a 'Decade of Evangelism' in the 1990’s that saw thousands of Ugandans accepting Christ, which laid the foundation for an emphasis on discipline, as one of its greatest achievements over the past 60 years.

Other highlights of its 60 year history include the transformation of its theological college into a fully-fledged private university - Uganda Christian University - as well as building more hospitals and the completion of a commercial office building for the purpose of generating income for the church’s ministry. The Anglican Church of Uganda aims at building a self-sustaining church in the coming years as an independent religious entity.