Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga launched preparations to mark 50 years since the canonisation of the martyrs. Below are some of his remarks.
This year, on October 18, we launched preparations to mark 50 years since Pope Paul VI canonized our 22 Uganda Martyrs in Rome on October 18, 1964 and declared them saints at St. Peter’s Basilica on the same day.
As Kampala archdiocese, we lit a candle to declare the start of the activities that are scheduled to conclude on October 18, 2014. The canonization took place during the session of the Second Vatican Council, when Catholic Bishops from all over the world were in session and attended the canonization.
This historical event gave the Uganda Martyrs honour from the entire Catholic Church in the whole world. Since then the Uganda Martyrs have created a positive image of our country.
We have now launched the year of the Uganda Martyrs Golden Jubilee and the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been invited to preside over the Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Many people often allege that religious leaders do not appreciate the modern world, the political and social activities of the State! This is not true! The Church is indeed a strong and effective advocate of spearheading programmes for education, health, spiritual, social and economic development!
Archbishop Lwanga lights a candle marking 50 years since the canonisation of the martyrs Photo/Juliet Lukwago
Today if the Church took away its services from the people, Uganda would remain empty. We need spiritual renewal and economic empowerment to achieve a truly African Church that responds to the needs of our people. President Museveni’s rule has seen some steady economic progress with an impressive GDP of 6% growth and a revitalisation of infrastructure.
Improving the road infrastructure, professionalising the army and fostering peace and security have been major achievements of the NRM regime.
The restoration of traditional rulers in 1993 also contributed to political stability. However the failure of Government to perationalise article No. 178 which stipulates that the regional government system is not a credit.
While some people are requesting the Government to share power under a federal system, the government wants tier government!
Some politicians do not want to listen or hear the word “Federal” and yet in the past this term was used in the agricultural sector’s booming period! We have what we call the Uganda National Federation which supplies 80% of the labour force in Uganda!
Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga with VP Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi during the launch of Uganda Martyrs Congress Photo by Juliet Lukwago
On the East African scene, our region is planning to have an East African Federation. How can one support the East African Federation in the region and yet he/she does not support the National Federation at a lower level? This sounds like a contradiction!
Government should also support agriculture so that it remains Uganda’s backbone. I hail Government for introducing the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADs). It has worked in some areas but it has failed in others due to corruption.
With minimal measures to mitigate corruption and less involvement of farmers in the NAADs programme, it has had few benefits Some of the agricultural programmes that have not been attended to are rural finance, agro-processing and marketing, agriculture and education.
Others are supporting physical and technological infrastructure and sustainable use of natural resources We need to audit Uganda’s education system.
Various faith based organisations spear headed the education system in Uganda. However after independence, government decided to take our schools without any dialogue.
Now Government has failed to run them properly. Teachers are under paid, Government grants arrive late and are not enough and those who are propagating UPE and USE don’t have children in the UPE and USE schools! I call upon the government to return the schools to their original owners.
Let us also debate our future honestly. Citizens have lost faith in politics and their expectations have fallen too low. Yet, we are constantly fed mercy figures of economic growth by politicians who are inseparable from hypocrisy, or by highly compromised technocrats, who are constantly holed up in conferences, prayer breakfasts and parties, never finding time to assess the impact of the figures they announce on the ground.
A group photo of the congregation that attended the launch of the Uganda Martyrs Congress
Honestly, we cannot take those sweet messages of economic growth as guiding stars to our future Holy scripture gives some advice on politics.
The Bible warns that truth should not be subject to politics. In John 18:30 we are told that Jesus became the centre of Pilate’s power struggle which resulted in His unjust crucifixion and death.
Turning politics or faith into some form of fundamentalism is inconsistent with reason and with the rational character of God Himself (Gen 1-2). So, politics, religion and reason desperately need one another and belong together because reason presumes faith and also promotes an orderly society, which politics is supposed to do.
Truth and freedom are two sides of the same coin. Today, some people do not value the truth anymore. Freedom, today, has various interpretations some of which are erroneous. Some people are advocating the freedom of women to do whatever they like in sexual matters, including the freedom to abort children!
Others advocate the freedom to over-drink, take drugs and smoke! God gave human beings the freedom to do the right thing. The Catholic Church does not condone drunkenness.
In the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians (5:18) we are told: “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Holy Spirit”. The technocrats who prepare national budgets and development plans seem to be running away from their own noses!
The pictures of Uganda’s Vision 2040 are too good to be believed. They do not show us the present reality of poor people living in sad situations.
And 2040 is just 30 years away. Shall we have got rid of slums, village houses, bad roads and poor agricultural practices? What of the increasing gap between the very rich few and the majority poor? This country is capable of becoming the most successful nation in Africa, if we make the right choices.
As we celebrate 50 years since the canonization of the 22 Uganda Martyrs, Uganda must find a renewed spirit and dedication starting with our spiritual and civil leaders, to allow us achieve our ambitious plans that are well written, but left with reckless abandon to feed mice and cockroaches on the dusty shelves in our offices and churches.
As Christians, we should distinguish between the new constructed allegedly “holistic” ethical system from God’s holistic and eternal design of salvation, not realising that the two concepts lead in different directions, hence the new approaches to evangelization.
We thank the President for having declared the 3rd June a National Holiday, as we prepare for the Pope’s visit to honour the Martyrs and also to preside over the Golden Jubilee celebrations, we ask the Government to cooperate with us so as to make the jubilee a success in all aspects.
During the Jubilee year, I call upon parents who will bear children to name them after the Uganda Martyrs Let us be real witnesses of Christ and conquer evil by doing good at home, in our communities, parishes and dioceses and country. May you defeat evil by doing what is good!
For God and my Country