By Joan Akello
Rev. Fr. Simon Lokodo, the minister of state for Ethics and Integrity, spoke to Joan Akello about missing priesthood.
How do you feel after the law you celebrated early this year was nullified?
I was devastated. Patricia Mutesi, the principle state attorney, called to console me because I was in Karamoja on the day of the court ruling. She told me not to despair because the Penal Code Act is also very clear about homosexuality.
How is life at the directorate?
It has been a tough one since I joined it because my mandate is very sensitive; ensuring good morals and fighting against corruption, so I have never sat to enjoy a cup of tea.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
It is when I have no preoccupation, dissatisfaction, or disillusion and when things are in order and in line.
When and where were you happiest?
The day I was ordained a priest in 1986, and the saddest was when I was excommunicated for joining politics. I have given them (the Catholic Church) headache because I still use my title and live as a priest. They were waiting to see me get married and produce children, but I didn’t.
You sound like you really miss leading mass?
I miss that and hearing confessions but now I hear those of moral decay and the corrupt.
What is your greatest fear?
It is not meeting my vision, goal or focus. Much as I move towards it, I wish I realize it there and now.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Because of my soft heart and simplicity of person, I am easy to reach for everybody and some have told me that I’m the strangest minister because some ministers are hard to see or reach. Because of my generosity, I always share what I have and have many people in my home, I do not regret being asked from, but the pain is not being able to offer as much as you are asked.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
I do not like suckers, oppressive, possessive people who want to send the message that theirs is the best. I want a sense of concern for another, if there was selfless concern for another and friendliness, corruption would not be there. I want people who are transparent and not just in resources. I want people who are responsible and committed in life.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
It’s not up to me, it is those who behold me who give me credit or discredit me. I think I am OK because nobody has told me I am rough or ugly. Fortunately, some have told me I have a gap up in my front teeth – it’s only my mother and I who have it in my family. We were 17 children – same mother and father and I am number four. Some died young.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Fear of God, love for humanity, genuine to his identity and lives up to the ethics of his foundation.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Fear of God, love for humanity, genuine to her identity and lives up to the ethics of her foundation.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
You are putting me into confession but I am happy the way I am.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
The assistance I give to the girl child, support I give to the destitute, resettling a marginalized group among the Ike that was meant to be totally disintegrated in 1994. In the government, I have come up with policies and laws that are helping to mould the lives of Ugandans.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
A human being not as an animal that can be chased and killed in the bushes.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I’m a simple citizen living happily and relating with people. I don’t love positions of authority and being eulogized. With wealth I always tell God to give me enough; not too little, not too much. I am also result-oriented and want to achieve my vision. I want to see a difference.
What angers you the most?
Somebody who tells me one thing and does the other. If I find out you that are false, I ignore you.
Who are your favorite writers?
Writers of philosophy, though I also love reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelations. I love the letters of St. Paul to the Romans, Thessalonians, Corinthians because they carry messages that build the moral character of a person.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Pope John Paul II. I was there when he was elected and I served in his regime. I stayed and studied in Italy for nine years and he became almost my next of kin and I could go and talk to him.
Is it possible for you to meet the current Pope?
Because of my situation, I’m not sure they will pick me for audience with him especially those cardinals who sit around him. They may say this one will poison the Pope to allow priests to marry!
Would you let them marry?
Really, those who cannot afford celibacy let them marry instead of producing children left and right. Those who want children should leave the priesthood; you cannot have both.
What is it that you most dislike?
People who sit on assignments. I am result-oriented. Also, priests who are producing children but have refused to leave the priesthood.
What is your greatest regret?
It’s when I cannot help somebody who is needy; it really devastates and depresses me.