Crack widens between Akurdid and ECSS after cleric refuses retirement
The Episcopal Church of South Sudan resolved to move on after archbishop Reuben Akurdid defied an order calling on him to retire immediately to allow his successor at Jonglei Internal Province to take over.
Gabriel Manyang, the ECSS Communication Officer, and the Press Secretary in the Office of the Primate, Justin Badi Arama, stated that the ECSS had nothing else to do after Akurdid refused immediate retirement, as requested by the primate last month.
“The primate allowed him to do that, and they have responded that Akurdid will not retire and therefore the ECSS administration has nothing to do with them,” Manyang said.
He argued that there has never been a synod of the internal province, which is why. He wanted to be reinstated.
According to him, Akurdid went to Bor to consult his supporters about whether to allow him to retire immediately or not.
On Monday, the spokesperson of the defrocked Archbishop of Jonglei Internal Province, Philip Maluak Deng said the consultative meeting held by Reuben Akurdid’s supporters in Bor resolved that he must not retire unless his defrocking his been lifted, and he is given three months to reconcile the church.
Maluak argued that Akurdid and his followers would remain autonomous until the time Badi’s term ends should their demands are not met.
“If they fail to implement that, [then] we can be autonomous until his term ends,” Maluak said.
He added that they also demanded the three dioceses of Cueikeer, Makuac and Anyidi and their bishops to be confirmed first in accordance with the resolution made in the presence of President Salva Kiir.
“We demand the lifting of defrocking and confirmation of three dioceses and three bishops and grant him three months to unite the church to make reconciliation,” Maluak concluded.
On June 25, Dr. Badi stated that Akurdid’s defrocking would not be lifted because he had gone past the retirement age and the church traditions would not allow that.
“We could not go ahead with the reinstatement, we have given him time to go and consult with his people, and then he will come back with the feedback,” Badi told the press.
“The main contentious issue was that he wanted to be reinstated as a full archbishop for three months. But we told him that the church law does not go that way,” the primate explained.
Akurdid returned to Bor on a request to consult his supporters and give feedback to the office of the primate.
Akurdid told the press he was willing to retire when the dioceses of Anyidi, Makuac and Cueikeer were confirmed, with their bishops, adding that the ECSS decision had disappointed him.
“I would have retired in 2021, but they are the ones who have made it complicated. As soon as these dioceses are accepted, and their bishops are confirmed, I am ready to go home, even today,” Akurdid said.
The national minister for information, communication technology, and postal services, Michael Makuei promised the government’s effort to settle the dispute once and for all.
“We are not definitely giving up; we will continue to mediate because we are peacemakers. It is our duty to ensure that we continue to talk to the parties so that we can reach an amicable solution that will bring peace and stability,” Makuei told the press.