JUBA – South Sudan’s defrocked Archbishop of Jonglei Internal Province, Rt. Rev. Reuben Akurdit Ngong, is still under discipline and has not been restored, said Most Rev. Justin Badi Arama, Archbishop and Primate Episcopal Church of South Sudan.
Dr. Arama refuted the media reports which claimed Bishop Akurdit was reinstated.
“If their people who are just going about on social media claiming that Akurdit has been restored it is false,” Arama said told reporters upon his arrival at Juba International Airport on Tuesday.
The office of the president last month granted Akurdit Ngong, permission to return to Jonglei nearly seven months after his expulsion from there.
Arama arrived in Juba on Tuesday after attending the Lambeth conference in the UK said Akurdit was only given permission to return to Jonglei to see his family.
“His going back to Jonglei does not mean that we have restored him, he has gone back as a retired person to be with his family,” he said.
He said the church does not have any problem with Akurdit visiting his hometown.
“Akurdit is our elder and he is from Jonglei. He has all the rights to back to Jonglei to his people and stay with his family. We have no problem with them.”
“In regard to the church, Akurdit has been defrocked and he has reached retirement age, we have no problem with him within the Anglican Church of South Sudan.”
The Episcopal Church of South Sudan split in August 2020 when Primate Justin Badi Arama, defrocked Bishop Reuben Akurdid accusing him of canonical disobedience for turning down suspension a year earlier.
Akurdid has repeatedly rejected his defrocking and fought his way back to the throne in the South Sudan High court.
In August 2021, High Court Judge Lawrence Jaja ruled that the church should sit down and solve the case through the ECSS tribunal court, a decision Akurdid immediately rejected and vowed to carry his own cross saying the “road to heaven doesn’t go through Juba” making the ECSS church crisis even more complicated.
Tension has since remained high with Jonglei authorities expelling Bishop Akurdit and his Arama-appointed replacement, Bishop Moses Anur along with others from Bor in January after an armed youth group loyal to Akurdit attacked the church in which two people were injured, including one of the bishops.