This year’s Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations kicked off this morning at both the Anglican and Catholic Shrines at Namugongo, with strong calls for all humanity to obey God, and a stern criticism of divergent messages from church leaders in developed countries.
The celebrations at the Catholic Shrine were themed, “Obey God always and everywhere.”
In his teaching to hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, the Catholic Archbishop of Gulu Diocese John Baptist Odama, who was the main celebrant, started with prayers to the pilgrims who died days ago, on their way to Namugongo.
At least four pilgrims from neighbouring Kenya were knocked dead by a speeding commuter taxi along the Iganga-Tororo highway in Mayuge District.
“We want to remember those foot pilgrims who lost lives as they were moving to this place, those from Kenya. I am told there are some from Soroti who also lost their lives,” Odama said before calling for a moment of silence.
Bishop Odama also paid special tribute to extraordinary pilgrims that made it to Namugongo this year, who included two preteens who walked from Gulu and Mbarara as well as 97 year Benaldo Tibyangye, a catechist who trekked from Mbarara.
In his sermon, Odama emphasized the need for all humanity in all continents of the world to obey God.
“We must obey God because he is our creator, our sustainer, our judge, and our redeemer through his son,” he said.
“That’s why we must offer our obedience to him, like those who did to the level of martyrdom. We must trust, submit and surrender to God and to his word.
Bishop Odama also spoke against what he called fruits of disobedience, which he said, include greed, human trafficking, theft, child sacrifices, xenophobia, tribalism among others.”
Meanwhile, over at the Anglican Shrine, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, His Eminence Stanley Ntagali used the celebrations to announce that Uganda will not be sending representative Bishops and their spouses to the Lambeth Conference in 2020 in Canterbury, UK.
This he said is because Uganda continues to disassociate itself from Church teachings that support homosexuality.
Ntagali, also revealed that the Ugandan Bishops had been joined by their Kenyan colleagues to boycott the conference, which brings together all active bishops and their spouses from over 160 countries.
“We don’t agree with them, and we have agreed that we shall instead go to Kigali with our wives in June 2020 and preach the true word of God without compromise,” Ntagali said.
“We have said that the liberals can stay with their money and we shall stay with our faith.”
At the Anglican church, Government was represented by Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, while at the Catholic Shrine, Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Sekandi represented President Yoweri Museveni.