Out of Africa
Well, in the spirit of Milingo, one Ugandan priest has taken the plunge and gone public with his new wife -- who was already the mother of his two daughters:
"I was living a double life, but now my conscience is clear," says Catholic Priest Father Godfrey Shiundu, 38, of his recent marriage. "I knew it was wrong to have a girlfriend while serving God as a priest, but I couldn't leave her because I love her with all my heart."Well, there ya go. Tip to Jimmy Mac, master of the newsdesk.
Father Shiundu opened a can of worms when he tossed the mandatory celibacy rule out of the window and married his sweetheart Stella Nangila, who is a nurse at the Moi Referral Hospital in Eldoret, about 340km west of Nairobi. The colourful wedding in May, followed a formal civil marriage conducted in February at the Kitale District Commissioner's Office.
The awareness of living a lie, he explains, was as much a factor as love in pushing him towards his decision. "I'd be with my girlfriend in bed on a Sunday morning, then I'd rush to church to say Mass hurriedly so that I could go back to her. At the altar I portrayed an image of an honest and Holy Father, but in my head I knew that wasn't true. I was sinning. I couldn't live with that guilt anymore."
Father Shiundu is no stranger to controversy. Four years ago, he was accused of impregnating a seminary nun. Temporarily rejected by the church, he had no one to turn to but Stella. "The bishops didn't give me a hearing; I still maintain I'm innocent. Stella was my soul mate, the only person I could rely on."
Father Shiundu says his decision to marry her wasn't a difficult one to make: after all, she was already the mother of his two daughters, Natalie (aged six) and Camilla, aged one. Standing at 1.8m tall and dressed in a dark suit and black shirt, he looks every inch a gentleman. A neat haircut frames his light complexion, and his easygoing, confident manner betrays no sign of distress. He answers his mobile phone with a hearty laugh. "That's my former schoolmate congratulating me on my wedding!" he says.