Ugandan Catholic Bishops on the Current Situation of the country

30.06.2010 11:37 by Jose Luis Gutierrez Aranda (comments: 0)

Arbishop Cyprian K Lwanga -Archbishop of Kampala
Arbishop Lwanga,

100622 Statement of the Catholic Bishops on the Current Situation in Uganda

KAMPALA, June 22, 2010 ( CISA)

 

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission Act could be detrimental to the media and its work in undertaking the role of providing information, an international organization has said.

We, Catholic Bishops of Uganda, gathered at St. Augustine’s Institute for our Annual Plenary Meeting from 4th to 11th June 2010, wish to express our appreciation for the endless effort by all people in this country aiming at building lasting peace, democracy and good governance.

Aware that the common good requires respect for the principles of democracy which include, among others; equality among persons, the sovereignty of the people and respect for the rule of law, the current events in the country indicate that there is a lot of fear and anxiety about the social, economic and political future of this country.

Our Concerns

The current situation

We note with great concern that as we move towards 2011, we see a lot of fear and pessimism in many people’s hearts. The causes of fear are many and we wish to mention some of the most widespread such as: land and work insecurity, the widening gap between rich and poor, growing tension among ethnic groups, a poor health service, and other social issues. It is, therefore, of paramount importance that all those preparing themselves to stand as candidates in the next election be ready to face with determination the issues mentioned in the present statement, having always in mind the common good of the people.

We generally recommend that the current political environment is handled with maximum care as one of the tools towards building long term democracy in the country.

On Election Management

We observe that the current events in the country indicate that there is a lot of fear and anxiety about the political future of our country especially before, during, and after the forth-coming elections. We, therefore, call for a smooth and fair electoral process managed by a credible electoral body that will guarantee transparency and impartiality of the process.

There is a current need to continue strengthening the capacity of the Electoral Commission to serve as a credible electoral management body in which all people can have trust and confidence that it is able to organize free and fair elections. While we appeal to the various candidates to keep always in mind the common good of the people by practicing issue-based politics, we also appeal to the electorate to be active and exhibit a high degree of patriotism and love of one another through peaceful co-existence with those who hold different political views. The Church is committed to give people hope that the elections will be guided by the values and principles of democracy in the name of the Almighty God. We are further committed to promoting electoral democracy and always remain the voice of the voiceless, without compromising our impartiality.

On Mass Media

Information plays a vital role in society. We invite the media practitioners of the press, radio, and television, to exercise self-control and a sense of responsibility in their work, providing truthful and objective information respectful of the legitimate plurality of opinions.

At the same time we appeal to Government and Parliament to ensure that the Information Bill under discussion, while preventing and correcting abuses, may not stifle and infringe on the freedom of expression, a right of all citizens and groups in a truly modern and democratic society.

On the Tension between the Buganda Kingdom and the Central Government

The question of Buganda is well known in the history of this country. Understanding that no government can fully meet the demands of the population, where there is dissatisfaction, government should always open its doors to early dialogue.

Recalling the September 2009 riots in Kampala which climaxed into violence where life and property were lost and some radio stations closed, and aware that these kind of tensions go beyond Buganda to other parts of the country, we recommend that a lasting solution be sought through a wider forum composed of different groups and individuals who should dialogue and develop strategies which could lead to a peaceful conclusion.

On the Northern Uganda Situation

We, the bishops of Uganda, thank the stakeholders who helped to bring peace in Northern and Eastern Uganda through different interventions including the Juba Peace Talks. We thank, among others, the Government of Uganda, the Acholi Religious Peace Initiative, the Government of Southern Sudan, and the U.N. for their active participation in the peace process.

Most of the people of Northern as well as Eastern Uganda have returned to their homeland. However they have many new challenges that need government’s support. They need support to resettle in their villages. This can be in form of farm implements, building materials and so forth.

The Government of Uganda needs to work towards a lasting peace in Northern Uganda. There is need to pursue the Juba Peace Talks to its peaceful conclusion.

On Land conflicts

We realize and take serious note of what is going on with the relationship between the land lords and the tenants in Uganda. The new Land Law seems not to be the solution.

Despite the many good things that the land amendments were intended to achieve, the same are not attainable due to the fact that evictions are still going on in many parts of Uganda. This means that evictions have not been as a result of absence of laws but the non implementation and lack of compliance from citizens.

Land management and administration requires that the interests and rights of both the land lords and tenants are protected. We still believe that we must have a system that can accommodate both tenants and landlords to the satisfaction of both parties. The national land policy should be put in place to guide the land laws.

On the Environment

A key aspect for the survival of the human being and development is environmental protection. However, depletion of forests in the recent times is threatening this bio-diversity and causing other environmental effects. Destroying forest not only causes economic loss but it also deprives humanity of other essential needs necessary for human life.

The destruction of the environment is happening under the eyes of all those who should prevent it. We appreciate the government’s effort to make electric power available to more people. But this seems not to be enough to prevent the on-going destruction of forests and of the environment. Pollution caused by second hand cars sold off by rich countries to Third-World countries, inefficient rubbish collection resulting into the growing bulk of garbage in towns, uncontrolled encroaching on wetlands and water pollution are already threatening the health of many people, the bio-diversity and the environment as a whole. This jeopardizes the livelihood and health of future generations.

Much as we may need development, we must always bear in mind that any development divorced from environmental protection is not sustainable development. Environmental protection requires enforcement and implementation of environmental Laws. This necessitates not only public awareness but also it requires political attention and action.

On the Oil Exploration and Extraction

We further note that in Bunyoro region there is an increasing demand for land after the discovery of oil. The people’s concern is that a large number of land “grabbers”, from both inside and outside the region are a source of conflict. Besides the above, there have been negative consequences as a result of environmentally insensitive exploration methods already applied in the areas where oil wells exist. There are a lot of dangerous bi-products deposited in both water and agricultural land making it unfit for both animal and human settlement. For example, in Ngwedo village in Buliisa, the oil well is in an area near the Church while other wells are near people’s homesteads.

In our view, policies governing the oil exploration and extraction should be made public and the citizens especially people in Bunyoro region should know them and be enabled to participate in processes of implementation. Let the people be allowed to own the process and feel they are benefiting and are part of the gains.

On the on-going Killings and human sacrifice

Human sacrifice is against Christian teaching and morals. This vice however reached an alarming proportion in 2009. This has been mainly as a result of superstition, poverty and greed.

We, therefore, continue to ask why this inhuman practice continues to persist in our country. Human sacrifice is on the rise in Uganda making the practice one of the leading cruel and dehumanizing acts.

Our pronouncement on this issue remains that human sacrifice is evil and contrary to what we cherish as God’s people to always protect and preserve human life which is a sacred gift from God.

On Domestic violence

Domestic violence continues to challenge the social order of families in our society today. It has been partly as a result of the differences between public life and personal freedom. Intolerance and mistrust in homes, alcohol, jealousy, greed, poverty, to mention but a few, are some of the major causes. It has disrupted social order and comes to affect people’s performance outside homes.

We, therefore, presuppose having domestic violence free homes to deter the future generation from doing the same. In effect, continued domestic violence negates the aspect of stability in families.

Today, there is an urgent need to address domestic violence given its diverse effects on the social, political, religious, and economic developments of the family. It requires redress and the building up of responses in our society.

Our homes should be places for growing together in trust, love, justice, honest, dedication, mutual concern and tolerance of differences.

On Government Health services

The Church is happy to continue providing good health services to the population. At the same time we bishops are concerned that the services offered by the government institutions are generally sub-standard and in many instances violate the basic human right of our citizens to proper treatment.

On Corruption

We continue to address the country on the evil of corruption. This needs urgent attention from all of us. Government has established different institutions against corruption but the question remains as to what has been the effectiveness, positioning, and usefulness of these institutions?

Government must take a central role in the struggle against corruption. It should join us to always indicate to the people the expected behaviors. Corruption is a cancer that needs serious and urgent attention. We believe that the State should be more committed to fight corruption since it has the machinery to eradicate this evil practice. What we need now is the putting in place all the necessary laws, policies and messages to fight corruption by training for the transformation of people’s hearts. However, all these strategies should come with well planned and well facilitated coordination.

We further appeal that Government itself should give an example of good stewardship.

On Disarmament in Karamoja

The complex situation in Karamoja needs to be addressed with particular care and sensitivity. The breaking down of traditional structures and the presence of illegal weapons cause great insecurity and hinder the development of Ngakaramojong people. The disarmament should continue in dialogue with the local people and with greater attention to what can favour the development of the area, overcoming the perception that Karamoja is a forgotten part of Uganda.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we uphold our role as Church leaders to continue exercising our stewardship and to uphold the common good over the interests of family, clan, ethnic group or political party and to protect and promote the social, economic, political and religious rights of every citizen, as enshrined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Constitution of Republic of Uganda 1995.

PEACE BE WITH YOU ALL.

Given at St. Augustine’s Institute, this 11th day of the Month of June 2010, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

+Matthias Ssekamanya, Bishop of Lugazi & Chairman of UEC.

1. His Eminence Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala - Archbishop Emeritus of Kampala & Patron of UEC

2. Rt. Rev Matthias Ssekamanya -Ordinary of Lugazi & Chairman of UEC

3. Most Rev J B Odama -Archbishop of Gulu

4. Most. Rev Cyprian K Lwanga -Archbishop of Kampala

5. Most Rev Paul Bakyenga -Archbishop of Mbarara

6. Most. Rev Denis Kiwanuka -Archbishop of Tororo

7. Most. Rev James Odongo -Archbishop Emeritus of Tororo

8. Rt. Rev Robert. Muhiirwa -Ordinary of Fort Portal

9. Rt. Rev Deogratias Byabazaire -Ordinary of Hoima

10. Rt. Rev Charles Wamika -Ordinary of Jinja

11. Rt. Rev Callistus Rubaramira -Ordinary of Kabale

12. Rt. Rev. Paul Ssemogerere -Ordinary of Kasana-Luweero

13. Rt. Rev Egidio Nkaijanabwo -Ordinary of Kasese

14. Rt. Rev Joseph Antony Zziwa -Ordinary of Kiyinda-Mityana

15. Rt. Rev Fillip Giuseppe -Ordinary of Kotido

16. Rt. Rev. Franzelli Giuseppe -Ordinary of Lira

17. Rt. Rev John Baptist Kaggwa -Ordinary of Masaka

18. Rt. Rev Henry Ssentongo -Ordinary of Moroto

19. Rt. Rev Martin Luluga -Ordinary of Nebbi

20. Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Obbo -Ordinary of Soroti

21. Rt. Rev. Sabino Ocan Odoki -Apostolic Administrator of Arua

22. Rt. Rev Lambert. Bainomugisha -Apostolic Administrator of Hoima

23. Rt. Rev Christopher Kakooza -Auxiliary Bishop of Kampala

24. Rt. Rev Joseph Sabiiti Mugenyi -Auxiliary Bishop of Fort Portal

25. Rt. Rev Frederick Drandua -Bishop Emeritus of Arua

26. Rt. Rev Paul Kalanda -Bishop Emeritus of Fort Portal

27. Rt. Rev Edward Baharagate - Bishop Emeritus of Hoima

28. Rt. Rev Joseph Willigers -Bishop Emeritus of Jinja

29. Rt. Rev Barnabas Halem�Imana -Bishop Emeritus of Kabale

30. Rt. Rev Robert. Gay -Bishop Emeritus of Kabale

31. Rt. Rev Joseph Oyanga -Bishop Emeritus of Lira

32. Rt. Rev J B Kakubi -Bishop Emeritus of Mbarara

33. Rt. Rev Erasmus Wandera -Bishop Emeritus of Soroti


 

 

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