The much awaited visit by Pope Francis to Uganda this year has been postponed with the Pontiff confirming he is unable make the trip.
Subsequently, the celebrations of the 50 years of the Canonisation of the Uganda Martyr’s which the Pope had been officially invited to preside over on October 18, has also been postponed.
“The Holy Father did receive our invitation and was very appreciative,” said a statement signed by Gulu Archbishop John Baptist Odama, who chairs the Episcopal Conference.
“However, due to prior commitments, he is unable to visit Uganda this year. We have, therefore, decided to postpone the national celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Canonisation of our Martyrs until further notice. We hope and pray that the Pope’s schedule allows him to visit us in the near future,” he said on Friday.
Archbishop Odama, however, said this year’s annual Uganda Martyr’s Day celebrations will go on as usual, announcing that the Diocese of Kotido had been chosen to lead the celebrations.
Vatican spokesperson Fr Federico Lombard earlier confirmed the popular Pontiff is only considering an August trip to Asia and South Korea in particular, as the only planned papal voyage in 2014.
Pope Francis, who was elected to office on March 13 last year had been invited to Uganda to preside over the Golden Jubilee of the of Canonisation of the Uganda Martyrs. The Uganda Martyrs were canonised by Pope Paul VI at the Vatican in 1964.
The Uganda Martyrs were a group of Christians (both Roman Catholics and Anglicans) who were murdered on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II of Buganda, between 1885 and 1887. Twenty-two of the martyrs were Roman Catholics. Their feast day is June 3. Blessed Daudi Okelo and Blessed Jildo Irwa are the other two Ugandan Catholic martyrs. They were martyred in Kitgum after the Comboni Missionaries set up a mission there in 1915.
The last Pope to visit Uganda was John Paul II, who prayed at Gulu and Soroti districts, as well as Nakivubo Stadium and the Namugongo Martyrs shrine in March 1993. His predecessor, Pope Paul VI, had visited Uganda in August 1969.
1. Achileo Kiwanuka
2. Adolphus Ludigo-Mukasa
3. Ambrosius Kibuuka
4. Anatoli Kiriggwajjo
5. Andrew Kaggwa
6. Antanansio Bazzekuketta
7. Bruno Sserunkuuma
8. Charles Lwanga
9. Denis Ssebuggwawo Wasswa
10. Gonzaga Gonza
11. Gyavira Musoke
12. James Buuzaabalyaawo
13. John Maria Muzeeyi
14. Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe
16. Lukka Baanabakintu
17. Matiya Mulumba
18. Mbaga Tuzinde
19. Mugagga Lubowa
20. Mukasa Kiriwawanvu
21. Nowa Mawaggali
22. Ponsiano Ngondwe
We, the Catholic Bishops of Uganda, would like to inform our Christians and indeed all people of goodwill that in September 2013, we sent an invitation to His Holiness Pope Francis to visit Uganda and preside over the Golden Jubilee celebration of the Canonisation of the Uganda Martyrs, scheduled for 18th October 2014. The Holy Father did receive our invitation and was very appreciative.
However, due to prior commitments, he is unable to visit Uganda this year. We have, therefore, decided to postpone the national celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Canonisation of our Martyrs until further notice. We hope and pray that the Pope’s schedule allows him to visit us in the near future.
We would also like to take this opportunity to announce that this year’s Uganda Martyrs Day (June 3) will be celebrated as usual and will be animated by Kotido Diocese.
We wish you a spiritually enriching Lenten Season and God’s abundant blessings.
On behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Uganda,
John Baptist Odama
Archbishop of Gulu and Chairman of Uganda Episcopal Conference
Kampala, March 14, 2014