By Mathias Mazinga and Andrew Ssenyonga
RUBAGA, Kampala - The Archbishop of Kampala Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga has asked Catholics to love and obey the religious instructions of pope-elect Francis.
He explained that the pope was the successor of St. Peter, the authentic leader of the Church, which was why his decision is final.
Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was elected the 266th leader of the Catholic Church on Wednesday. He now plays a double role as head of the Church and Sovereign of the Vatican City State.
“The Pope is the supreme pastor, the Bishop of Rome and head of the College of Bishops. Let us be obedient to his pronouncements. Let us not oppose him,” Lwanga told faithful.
He underlined the need for Catholics to abide by the decisions made by the Holy See.
Unlike other churches, he stressed, where the followers can oppose the decisions of their leaders, Catholics were under the dogmatic obligation to follow the decisions of the Vatican.
The cleric made this delivering during the thanksgiving mass for the election of Pope Francis at Rubaga Cathedral on Friday evening.
The election of the Francis, 76, surprised many as he was the first cardinal outside Europe to be chosen for papacy in very many years.
News of his election rippled around the world, as he is now set to lead the 1.2 billion Catholics amid challenging times for the Church.
At Rubaga Cathedral, Lwanga warned Catholics not to be misled by critics who speak lies and make blasphemous allegations against the Catholic Church. He singled out some critics who allege that the Biblical figure 666 – which is said to mean a beast – was in reference to the Pope of Rome.
His clarification was that St. John, who wrote the Book of Revelation, by 666, was referring to the Roman Emperor Nero, whom he considered to be the greatest enemy of Christians.
The Greeks and Hebrews are known to have used figures in writing, a culture which has existed through the ages.
Enemy of the Church
The Archbishop cautioned Catholics against speculating on matters of the Church. “The election of Pope Francis surprised many people. You know the media had fielded its own candidates. But to the amazement of everyone, Pope Francis, to whom the media had paid no attention, was the one that was elected.
“Now that the Pope has been elected, our duty is to obey and exercise allegiance to him and also to pray for him.”
Christians are in a period of fasting, and Lwanga said that the election of the new Catholic Church leader during the Lenten season is a reminder to faithful to pray more religiously, be charitable and also expression compassion to the poor.
The prelate went on by telling the congregation to stay firm and not be intimidated by what he called the enemies of the Church.
Christians believe that Jesus Christ built the Church on a rock, and that effective, no enemy can shake it.
Lwanga apologized for the wrongs committed by some priests but maintained that it is not right to direct blame of misdeeds within the Church on the pope and the bishops.
“The errant members of the Church commit the wrongs on their own,” he said.
The Secretary to the Nunciature (or the Charge de Affairs at the Vatican Embassy) Msgr. Edward Karaan asked Catholics to emulate Pope Francis’ virtues of simplicity and humility.
“When I saw the new Pope emerge from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, I saw virtues of humility and simplicity deep in his heart,” he said.
“Satan wanted to be like God, which is the greatest sin. Like St. Thomas Aquinas said, humility is the queen of all virtues. It brings us closer to God. Pride on the other hand takes us to Satan,” Karaan warned.
The Mass at the hilltop carried rare Catholic solemnity. Seven Papal Knights, clad in their regalia, gave the ceremony a marvelous spectacle.
Archbishop Lwanga also brought the cathedral to life when he started his homily with the expression of joy, ‘Habemus Papam’ [we have a new Pope], to which the congregation responded ecstatically, ‘Deogratias’ [thanks be to God].
Notable at the Mass were the Katikkiro of Buganda Eng. John Baptist Walusimbi and his predecessor, Joseph Mulwanyammuli Ssemwogerere, the honorary consul of Pakistan Bonney Katatumba, UPC President Olara Otunnu, Lubaga South MP John Ken Lukyamuzi and Buganda ministers Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi and Charles Peter Mayiga.