Uganda – Bishop Warns of Growing Islamic Influence

Bishop Matthias Ssekamanya of Lugazi warned of a rapid growth in Islamic influence in Uganda during a visit to the headquarters of the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

According to Bishop Ssekamanya, Arab states like Libya are investing increasingly in Uganda, and Muslims have gained key positions in a number of important ministries, including the economy and education.

According to official statistics around 12% of Uganda’s 33 million citizens currently follow Islam. However, Muslim sources are claiming around one third.

In Uganda, as in other African countries, statistics regarding religious affiliation are used as a political weapon, the bishop added.

For Bishop Ssekamanya, who heads the Diocese of Lugazi in central Uganda, the only answer to this development lies in a broad and extensive education of the overwhelmingly rural population.

The Diocese of Lugazi, in which some 42% of the population of 1.5 million is Catholic, currently runs 194 primary schools and 26 secondary schools, which are attended by some 75,000 children and young people, taught by 2,300 teachers.

The bishop’s aim is to progressively improve the quality of the education, and also the training of the staff. He wants to achieve a well-rounded scholastic education, together with a solid human formation, so that as many graduates as possible can go on to study at the university level.

Bishop Ssekamanya does not believe education is limited only to the schools, however. Another major challenge and an area to be tackled by the diocese is that of the family apostolate.

“We want to strengthen the awareness of the dignity of marriage and of the family among the faithful,” says Bishop Ssekamanya.

“Parents have a prophetic role to play in the parishes,” he concluded.

Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world. The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide. For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384. www.churchinneed.org
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