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A Message to the Catholic Community and People of Good Will in Uganda Following the Mass Suicide of Kanungu

A Message to the Catholic Community and People of Good Will in Uganda Following the Mass Suicide of Kanungu 
 
21 March 2000

From the Catholic Bishops of Uganda, to all our dear brothers and sisters in Christ, greetings and peace.
As the Episcopal Conference of Uganda assembles for their annual Spiritual retreat, it is with grief and sorrow that we heard the incredible news of the horrible holocaust of hundreds of adults and children in the inferno that took place on Friday 17th March 2000 in the Kibwetere Centre of Karengye, Kanungu in Rukungiri District.
Our first thought went to the innocent victims of this horrific event. Most of these people had been misled by obsessed leaders into a form of religiosity completely rejected by our Church. Their promoters have constantly rejected warnings and advice repeatedly given to them.
As an Episcopal Conference, we pray for all the families, relatives and friends of these victims. We share in deep compassion the anguish and anxiety of those who do not know whether their beloved ones are alive or dead. And then, as the leaders of our Church we cannot but ponder on the message given to us and to the whole Christian Community, through this tragic disaster.
Much as we condemn this suicidal act in the strongest terms, there is much to learn from it. What is the Lord telling us? No one can avoid looking back and looking forward. The first reaction is for all of us, to ask for God's forgiveness for whatever lack of clarity in our guidance for our beloved ones, as Bishops, Priests, and religious or as lay members of our Catholic Community.
Then, we as leaders of the Catholic Church in Uganda, wish to repeat clearly that any form of religiosity that leads to separation from the Family of God in Uganda cannot be God given. It is particularly important for all those seen as leaders to revisit the principles of Spiritual Discernment: "My dear friends, not every spirit is to be trusted, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God" (1 John 4:1-2). And John continues saying: "We are from God; whoever recognises God, listens to us; anyone who is not from God refuses to listen to us. This is how we can distinguish the spirit of truth from the spirit of falsehood" (1 John 4:6).
The Church, the family of God in Uganda, like all families, has to face moments of tension. God guides us in sometimes difficult ways. Today while shedding tears for the loss of hundreds who have been misguided out of the family, we humbly implore our brothers and sisters, to renew our devotion and dedication to walk together with all the successors of the Apostles, our pastors, inspite of our human limits.
A time of trial, in Christ's vision, is a time where inner renewal is called for. While deep and sincere compassion fills our hearts, let us hear the voice of God; let us all come home, let us return to our family of God, the Church. The door is open.
Even today, Christ repeats the words of Revelation: "Look. I am standing at the door knocking. If one hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share a meal at that person's side" (Rev. 3:20).
May the Holy Spirit guide us in love and unity.
We the Catholic Bishops of Uganda:
Signed by all the Catholic Bishops of Uganda