By Juliet Lukwago
The Catholic Church in Uganda has delayed celebrations for canonization of Uganda Martyrs earlier scheduled to take place on October 18 after Pope Francis announced delay of his visit to Uganda.
The chairperson of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, Archbishop John Baptist Odama made this clear in in a notice to Christians on Friday.
He said: “… on September 21, 2013, we sent an invitation through Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese, Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga to his Holiness the Pope Francis to visit Uganda and preside over the Golden Jubilee celebration of the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs scheduled for October, 18, 214.”
The pope was grateful for the invite but will not be able to make it happen, said Odama.
“The Holy Father did receive our invitation and was very grateful. However due to prior commitments, he is unable to visit Uganda this year,” read the communication.
“We have, therefore, decided to postpone the national celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of the canonization of our Martyrs until further notice. We hope and pray that the Pope’s schedule allows him to visit us in the near future.”
The annual June 3 Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations will go on as planned, the vice-chairperson of the Episcopal Conference, Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa said.
The invitation to the pope was sent through Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese, Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga (C). PHOTO/Juliet Lukwago
The Catholic and the Anglican church in Uganda celebrate Martyrs Day every year in honour of converts killed on orders of Kabaka Mwanga II for refusing to renounce their faith.
They were beatified on June 6, 1920 by Pope Benedict XV, and on October 18 1964, in the presence of bishops from all over the world who had gathered in Rome for the Second Vatican Council, were canonized by Pope Paul VI.
The martyrs were Charles Lwanga, Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe, Matthias Kalemba, Luke Banabakintu, Noe Mawagali, Andrew Kaggwa, James Buzabaliawo, Pontian Ngondwe, Bruno Serunkuma, Anatole Kirigwajjo, Athanasius Bazzekuketta, Adolphus Mukasa Ludigo, Gonzaga-Gonza, Achilles Kiwanuka.
Others included Ambrose Kibuuka, Mukasa Kiriwawanvu, Mbaga Tuzinde, Gyaviira Musoke, Mugaga Lubowa, Kizito, Denis Ssebuggwawo and Jean-Marie Muzeeyi.
The two Blessed Catechist of Paimol, Daudi Okello and Gildo Irwa were beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 20, 2002.
The martyrs are honored for their heroism in professing their faith and they have an intercessional role.