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Uganda Joint Christian Council New Year message

Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) is a faith based ecumenical organization that was established in 1963 and registered as a trustee under the Trustees Incorporation Act.

By Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga

(Statement) – As we come to the conclusion of the year 2018, I wish on behalf of Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) to which I am the current Chairman, I wish you all my dear fellow Christians starting from His Excellency the President of the Republic of Uganda H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, his dear Family as well as all the Members of His Government, Happy Christmas to you all and a Happy New Year of 2019.

I also wish to convey the same to our Cultural Leaders in Uganda especially His Majesty Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II the Kabaka of Buganda whose great grand Fathers permitted the Missionaries to settle here and preach the word of God to us! Without the King’s permission, Uganda would have been different today! To all other Cultural Leaders, their dear families, their respective Governments and people, I say to you all Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year of 2019.

In a special way I address my fellow Religious Leaders starting with those of the Uganda Joint Christian Council; His Grace Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, The Metropolitan Archbishop Jonah Lwanga, the Leader of Uganda Orthodox Church in Uganda and to all the Bishops members of UJCC, the Clergy, the Laity and in a special way the Youth, to you all I say a BIG “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year of 2019”

To all the Religious Leaders of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) where I am a Co-President and to all our followers, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Secondly we thank God Almighty for all His goodness to us during this year we are about to end! We are very grateful indeed for all the graces and the many good things that we have received from you! However for the many mistakes we have made before you our Loving God and Father we say a very big “SORRY” for all our mistakes and we ask for your paternal pardon and forgiveness. Let us all try to behave better in the New Year 2019 with God’s protection and guidance!

As we celebrate this year’s Christmas, I would like to pay special attention to the following concerns in our society;

The Church and African States on Human Rights

After the Second World War, there was a universal rise and greater acknowledgement of Human Rights all over the world. This concept of Human Rights entered both the Church’s and the State way of thinking. Soon after the Second World War, the struggle for independence began in all the colonized countries! Human Rights influenced both the Church and State’s understanding of Justice, Peace and Human Dignity. For both the Church and the State the concept of Human Dignity came from the Biblical image of God’s creation of humanity and all that surrounds us! (Gen. 1: 1-2;3) Politicians who urgued for Africa’s Political Independence zeroed on the said human dignity! However after receiving independence from our colonial masters, politicians or those who came to power quickly forgot the arguments they had tabled so as to get the African States’ Independence. Since then differences between the Church and State on the issues of human rights have arisen as the result of differences on the interpretation of human rights, freedom, justice and the promotion of human dignity.

As we begin the coming New Year of 2019, I call upon all those responsible in governing people at all levels to re-examine our understanding and practice on the issue of Human Rights! On this issue of human Rights, the State should be looking at the rights of all individuals to freedom of speech, belief, movement, choice, association etc. It goes without saying that the State should promote justice in every aspect of all Human existence.

Just as Christ operates with the word of God and aims at the deepening and broadening of the Christian Faith in people, all the States also should operate under their respective Constitution. For Uganda, we should all respect the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda which our Leaders swear to abide by. This will surely assist us all in promoting human Rights and the Rule of Law in our Country. Finally we should have the same understanding and interpretation of the Fundamental Human Rights.

 It appears today that we do not all have the same definition and understanding of human rights. However the Global understanding and interpretation of human rights is “Those Rights and Duties which belong essentially to what it means to be truly human, because without their fully being acknowledged and exercised, human beings cannot fulfill their original destiny of having been created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26).” So the State as well as the Church should each be a champion for justice, peace and the restored Human Dignity of all people in its analysis and commentary on issues of society and its help for the promotion and implementation of Human dignity, Justice and Peace.

Political and Social Instability:

Throughout this year, we have witnessed untold suffering and brutality meted out to hundreds of people by security organs during political rallies and demonstrations. So many are grieving the tragic loss of loved ones who have been killed. Many have fled their homes due to land grabbing. The incarceration and torture of civilians is not only wrong and criminal, but it must be condemned in the strongest terms possible.

Condolences

I wish once again to convey my condolences to the people who lost their beloved ones this year especially those who perished in a number of accidents, namely; capsized boat, road accidents, water floods, and Gun killings. We trust their souls to the merciful God. May their souls rest in eternal peace!

Corruption

The President of the Republic of Uganda recently launched the State House Anti-Corruption Unit in addition to the already existing policy tools to stem out corruption. However given the system build-up of the vice of corruption in Uganda since the 1970’s coupled with the political ploy of our weakening institutions, we all need to work very hard to fight this vice everywhere but we thank the President for this initiative and we pray that God assists him to seriously stop it because he has the tools to do it at all levels since corruption cuts across the various strata of our Society, Economic, Education, Political, Social and Religions.

Corrupt persons employ sophisticated tactics! The famous “Not Caught Guilty” Syndrome is quite common! People who get away with corruption because they have not been caught. When this crime has become an open secret, the case is adjourned several times until it is forgotten or hung-up! The result of all this is that commissions of inquiry that we read about and hear about yield no results! So we go back to square one! May our National Motto be our guiding model “For God and My Country”.

Whoever gets tempted in corruption please ask yourself, am I doing this for God and my Country? The answer cannot be Yes! So please don’t do it. Let the 10 Commandments be our guide (Exodus 20: 3 – 17) accompanied with what Jesus says and teaches about what please God and promotes, justice and peace.  

National Dialogue and Reconciliation

As Religious leaders in Uganda, we are championing the Uganda National Dialogue Process. The dialogue process is aimed at, creating a platform for Ugandans to agree on a shared transformative and development agenda that accelerates the consolidation of peace, security, justice, sustainable development and shared prosperity. Peace, security of person, human rights and the rule of law are outstanding items on the national dialogue agenda. Let us seize this opportunity to popularize and participate in the Uganda National Dialogue. Let this Christmas help us to work towards having a peaceful country; right from our homes, villages, communities and country at large. 

Sexuality Education Programme

History should help us to understand our current challenges in today’s society. Since the 1960s, Sexuality Programmes have been introduced in the Western World schools as the Education branch of Institutions that have spearheaded the sexual revolution. Africa is now confronted with this very same challenge putting at stake our children’s and young people’s morality! It takes only one generation to corrupt the soul of a continent, as the History of Europe has taught us.

On 25th September 2018, we the top leaders of UJCC namely;

His Grace Archbishops Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, the Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese, His Grace Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, The Archbishop of Church of Uganda and His Eminence Jonah  Lwanga, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Uganda Orthodox Church.

We submitted to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Sports our position paper on the launched National Sexuality Education Framework for Uganda and we clearly expressed our key issues of concern on this Negative policy that has been adopted by the Government of Uganda and these are;    

-We expressed reservation about the proposal to introduce sexuality education to children attending pre-primary (aged 3-5) and lower primary classes (aged 6-9).

-We noted with appreciation that the roles of Parents, Religious Leaders and Cultural Leaders in the operationalization of the National Sexuality Education Framework are clearly outlined in the document but pointed out the need to build the capacities so that they can deliver on their roles.

-We acknowledged that it is the mandate of the National Curriculum Development Centre to develop the curriculum. However, key stakeholders particularly should have opportunity for inputs at material development and vetting levels.

-We noted with appreciation that provision has been made in the NSEF for accreditation of non-governmental organizations that will provide sexuality education in schools but we also pointed out that, religious bodies as key stakeholders should be given the opportunity to participate in the development of the criteria for accreditation and other processes.

We are concerned that this sexual education framework will neither help the Parents, the Church nor the Country to obtain the goals of Education in Uganda.

We therefore do not agree with the Sexuality Framework and it cannot be implemented in our schools in its current form. We call upon Parents, our dear Members of Parliament and the Government to urgently correct this misguided framework which is going to destroy our Nation morally amongst the children Nationwide! We also remind both the Members of Parliament and also the Government headed by the President who is a visionary, we remind you all that building a policy framework is a process and being of a national character and importance, consultations should have been progressive right form inception, formulation of objectives and further build-up! We propose that Government should and must form a National Committee to look further into this matter for the betterment of education products for both the Church and the Country at large. We as leaders of the UJCC have resolved to reject this framework for the dangers that it will create in the Church, Families and Nation at large! There are more questions this framework has raised than it seeks to answer.              

Rampart Dishonesty in the Media “Obulimba”

The level of telling lies has gone beyond anybody’s expectations! Some Churches are openly telling lies to their congregations without any remorse, some of the Press media are telling lies in open day light! They publish wrong information and even sell it to the public! One big example is what they wrote about the Archbishop of Kampala is just amazing! I have just returned from Europe and I arrived home on Saturday night and on my return I found a paper called “AKalango” published my Christmas Message in writing that I published it here on Friday! Yet I was in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Bible in the book of (Exodus 20: 16) says that we should not tell Lies!  

My Misunderstood Message on the Church’s Self-Reliance

A few weeks ago, my remarks on how Christians should support their Church were completely misquoted in the various media and misunderstood. When I talked about involving Government, I did not mean Central Government introducing a tax and collecting it under its institutes like URA but I was referring to all those in position of governance who are in charge of paying people’s salaries to assist those who would like to support the Church, have their tithe deducted from their salaries and forwarded to the Church.  I gave the example of countries like Germany and Italy where similar systems are put in place to support the Church mission. In the Church nobody is forced to pay his or her tithe, it is not the Church’s policy to force anyone to contribute to the needs of the Church and its mission.

The need for supporting the Church

I appeal to each faithful’s conscience to be fair and just, in supporting the activities of our local church via contributions. The Bible makes the purpose of tithing very clear! Namely to put God first in our lives! So in the Book of Deuteronomy 14: 22, we are told “Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your field produces each year” we are therefore invited to give God the first and the best of what we earn! In the New Testament in the book of Hebrews, St. Paul reminds us of what Melchizedek , the High Priest, the Patriarch did! He gave God a tenth of the plunder. So the Priests are also not exempted from donating 1/10! (Hebrews 7: 4). They too pay it but also the law requires that the Priests who are the descendants of Levi to collect the tithe from the people (Hebrew 7:5). This means that out of each 10 shillings one earns, he or she should donate One shilling to God for supporting Church activities.

Conclusion

As I conclude, to you all I say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2019!  May the Birth of Jesus Christ remind each one of us to be a channel of Peace, Love and Mercy.

Let all organs of State work for and promote National Unity and Stability respecting the National Constitution where entire fundamental and human rights at all levels. Once again, Merry Christmas to you all and Happy New Year 2019!

Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga,

ARCHBISHOP KAMPALA AND CHAIRMAN OF UJCC

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