Catholic Church Urges Gov’t to Curb Gun Violence

Bishop Joseph Antony Zziwa, the chairperson of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, expressed concern over the increasing incidents of violent homicides in the country, particularly those involving firearms.

According to Bishop Zziwa, the loss of precious lives through brutal killings is a grave matter that cannot be ignored.

Speaking during the commemoration of Martyrs Day at the Namugongo shrines, the bishop specifically addressed the issue of gun violence and urged the government to implement stricter measures regarding firearm possession, both within the security forces and among private individuals.

Uganda has seen a significant surge in gun violence, starting with the tragic shooting of Retired Colonel Charles Patrick Okello Engola Macodwogo, the Minister of State for Labour, Employment, and Industrial Relations.

Unfortunately, many other individuals from various regions of the country have also become victims of gun-related incidents. Gun violence has been a longstanding problem in Uganda, with the country having the highest rate of gun violence in East Africa, according to a 2016 report from the Regional Centre on Small Arms and Light Weapons. The report highlighted that between 2010 and 2014, there were 43,512 reported incidents of armed crime in Uganda.

Bishop Zziwa also extended condolences to the president and citizens of Uganda for the loss of soldiers in Somalia who were part of a peacekeeping force under the African Union. He offered prayers for peace in the Horn of Africa, Sudan, Ukraine, Russia, and other parts of the world.

Bishop Zziwa also officially launched Uganda Catholic Television, a television station established by the Church to serve as a means of evangelization. The TV station, which had been testing signals in recent years and initially broadcasting only in Kampala areas, will now commence actual programming and expand its coverage to reach viewers across the country and beyond.

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, delivering the president’s speech, highlighted Uganda’s current state of relative tranquility and ongoing progress.

She encouraged loyal citizens to seize the opportunities presented by the government’s wealth creation campaigns, generate income, and improve their socio-economic status.

The event concluded with Bishop Charles Martin Wamika announcing that Jinja Diocese will establish new parishes and a hospital named after the martyrs in commemoration of this year’s Uganda Martyrs.

This initiative holds special significance as it marks 20 years since a similar endeavor was undertaken. Archbishop Paul Ssemogerere expressed gratitude to Tanzanian pilgrims who have consistently stayed behind each year to clean and maintain the shrines, considering it a testament to their faithfulness and humility.

However, the efforts of the Episcopal Conference to discourage the use of plastic materials at the shrines have lost momentum, leading to the accumulation of plastic bags and bottles, and indicating a failure to bring about the intended cultural change.

The event was attended by various dignitaries, including the Kyabazinga of Busoga, government ministers, the leader of the opposition in Parliament, members of Parliament, and others. Political drama ensued as some individuals refused to sit on assigned chairs due to their color preferences.

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