The Bishop of Kabale Diocese Callistus Rubaramira has suspended eight Catholic church members, who are said to be members of a prayer group with links to the movement that was led Joseph Kibwetere.
The suspended church members, who were also barred by the Bishop from partaking in any Sacraments, are the leaders of a controversial prayer group named the Marian Worker’s Movement.
The group is said to have ties with the Movement for Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, which was headed by Joseph Kibwetere and splintered from the Roman Catholic Church in the 1990s.
Under this movement, Kibwetere burnt alive 778 of his church members in March 2000.
This mass massacre, which shook the nation and the world was a culmination of Kibwetere’s apocalyptic teachings to this growing number of followers in Kanungu district.
Kibwetere was initially thought to have died in the church fire, but in 2014, Uganda Police said he had been reported to be hiding in Malawi.
The catholic church members that were suspended by Bishop Rubaramira include Vincent Byabamazima and Ben Arineitwe from Kitanga Parish, Luke Mayanja from Kamwezi Parish in Rukiga district, Rosette Kiconco, Aaroni Buzaare, Felix Barigye and Francis Byaruhanga from Christ the King parish Kabale as well as Credonia Tindikyeitira from Rushoroza parish in Kabale Municipality.
According to the suspension letter dated 3rd July 2019 addressed to the Marian Workers, the Bishop said he had written to them several times warning them of their acts in the diocese but they had become stubborn which was against the cannon law.
“This is the canonical document with a penalty of suspension prohibiting reception of sacraments due to obstinately rejecting injunctions of the competent authority and not responding to my prohibitions,” he wrote.
The bishop says the Marian Workers Movement was banned from the list of catholic movements in Uganda by the Uganda Episcopal Conference in June 2000.
That was shortly after the infamous Kibwetere inferno.
The Bishop however, says the banned Catholics, can be forgiven if they write to the authorities to prove their repentance.
Rev. Fr. Lucian Twinamatsiko, the Chancellor Kabale Diocese told Journalists that the only Lay Apostolate Associations and Movements recognized in Kabale diocese are the Legionionaries of Mary, Catholic Charismatic Renewal, St Jude Thaddeus Association, Eucharistic Crusaders, Xaverian Movement, Holy Family, Praying for the Souls in Purgatory, Catholic Women’s Association, Pioneer Total Abstinence Association, Catholic Students Association, Young Christian Students, Uganda Martyrs Guild, Holy Childhood, Kolping Society, Focolare Movement, Catholic Scouts and Catholic Men Association.
According to Twinomugisha, the banned group has been conducting secret prayers in the members’ homes every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday without the knowledge of the diocese as well as shunning the devotions of the Catholic Church, calling them demonic and fake, while claiming that theirs is the only authentic and true church movement.
Twinomugisha says that they couldn’t wait for the group to cause another tragedy like what happened in 2000.
In July 2016, the Marian Workers Movement was also banned in Soroti Diocese for similar reasons.