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Catholic Heroes . . . St. Charles Lwanga Of Uganda And Companions

July 30, 2020 saints No Comments

By DEB PIROCH

As the world becomes increasingly politically correct, we would do well to remember the sainthood of St. Charles Lwanga and his 24 or more companions who went to their deaths over 160 years ago, upholding chastity and resisting the deviant sexuality ordered by their king.
Born in Buganda in south-central Uganda under the rule of good King Muteesa I, Charles would go on to serve in the royal court of his successor, King Mwanga II. Sadly, the latter was an evil man who forced homosexuality and pedophilia on those around him. Charles worked as a page at court and at age 25 was newly Catholic.
The King particularly detested Christianity, as its new followers defied him in not approving his practices and even countermanding his wishes.
To refuse the orders of a king was dangerous and, in these times, the major domo, Balikuddembe — who had taken the Christian name Joseph at his own Baptism — began resisting the King and protested when the King massacred the local Anglican bishop and his missionaries. Joseph had assumed an even more prominent role as lay catechist, as Catholic missionaries withdrew further afield during the King’s wrath. Joseph was ordered executed and beheaded for trying to protect the Anglicans.
At this point, persecutions increased. As a chief page, Charles saw his role — like Joseph — to protect young pages from being preyed upon sexually by Mwanga. He had been baptized only recently and was 26. But at the execution of Joseph, Mwanga elevated him overnight to Joseph’s role as major-domo. Understanding what this portended, the same day as Joseph’s beheading, Charles sought out the White Fathers to baptize any pages left who had not received the sacrament. He had been a Catholic at the most a year but, like Joseph, saw his role as protecting his pages’ innocence and living his Christianity at any cost.
The next day, all were summoned to court. Despite the consequences of royal ire, Charles and his companions all refused to renounce Christ. They were promptly condemned to death, not just Charles, but even young boys and Anglicans as well. Death was by fire. As the flames rose higher, Charles reportedly told his executioner, “It is as though you are pouring water on me. Please repent and become a Christian like me.”

His Legacy

At the time of Charles’ beatification, in 1920, a Dutch priest ventured to embark on purchasing land and building a small church at the site of the martyrdom. This became the Uganda Martyrs Shrine Parish Namugongo, the church opening its doors in 1935. Later, in 1967, Emmanuel Cardinal Nsubuga, Uganda’s first cardinal, determined to erect a more substantial shrine.
Pope St. Paul VI had canonized St. Charles three years earlier. Present at the ceremonies was the first cardinal of Africa named by Pope St. John XXIII, Laurean Cardinal Rugambwa of Tanzania. Pope St. Paul VI, who succeeded as the next Holy Father, would be the first Pope to visit Africa. Indeed, the Holy Father visited Namugongo itself in 1969 and kissed the earth that bore witness to the blood of these martyrs.
Earlier this year SECAM, the group representing the bishops of Africa and Madagascar, met. Around the same time Parliament determined to declare June 3 — the date of St. Charles’ and 22 of his companions’ martyrdom — a public holiday, known as “Martyrs Day.”
According to the 2014 census, 84 percent of Uganda is Christian, with about 40 percent being Catholic, and 14 percent is Islamic. Thus Uganda sends a truly brotherly message. Unthinkable in the West, the first deputy prime minister, General Moses Ali, said on the occasion, “I also want to pay tribute to the Missionaries who brought religion (to Uganda). I don’t know what Uganda would be without these people (Missionaries) coming, and now we are peaceful because they prayed for the country” (Source: Vatican News).
Despite the Christian majority, and the natural inclination of Ugandans to be pro-life and oppose the homosexual/pedophilia agenda, the nation is under great pressure to conform to sinful practices sanctioned in the West. As many are aware, the United Nations has increasingly made aid conditional upon acceptance of liberal, left-leaning agendas promoting radical sexual education, abortion, LGBTQ, contraceptive use, and so on. Late last year Human Life International Uganda and Kenya were present at the International Conference on Population and Development, and issued a joint press release condemning actions forcing such sinful agendas down the throats of Africans, whose culture naturally embraces life, even though they are increasingly colonized by the West. (More information is available at hli.org under November press releases.)
Emil Hagamu, HLI’s regional director for English-speaking Africa, spoke to The Wanderer: “After visiting many seminaries in Africa [for pro-life training], St. Charles Lwanga stands out as a saint chosen by many seminaries. Being young himself, he remains as a symbol of committed Christian faith among the youth, as well as an invitation to the priesthood vocation among young people. Young people are called to be witnesses of the Catholic faith and evangelizers of the world.”
We do well to take the eternal perspective as the Church Militant in battling evil in Uganda and throughout the world. When Pope St. Paul VI visited Uganda in 1969, he wrote words of inspiration that he read to the pilgrims at Namugongo, speaking just as much to us today as he did to Ugandans then:
“And I answer you: [Martyrs should be honored] because they have performed the most heroic, and therefore the greatest and most beautiful of all actions; they have, as I said, laid down their lives for their faith, that is, for their religion and for the freedom of their conscience. Therefore, they are our champions, our heroes, our teachers. They teach us how real Christians should be.
“Listen to me now: Should a Christian be a coward? Should he be afraid? Should he betray his own faith? No! Of course not! Your martyrs teach us just how true Christians should be, especially young Christians, African Christians. For Christians must be courageous, they must be strong, they must, as St. Peter wrote, ‘be firm in the faith’ (1 Peter 5:9). Your martyrs teach us how much the faith is worth! But, you ask me, is faith worth more than life?
“Yes, indeed! Faith is more valuable than our present life, which is a mortal life; whereas faith is the beginning of the immortal life of happiness, that is, of the life of God in us. Do you know this most important truth? You answer: Yes! because you have learned that faith is accepting the Word of God; and whoever accepts the Word of God begins to live of God Himself” (source: Vatican.va).
We therefore now invoke the intercession of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions for:
The healing of problems related to homosexuality and pedophilia present in the global Church today;
As patron saints of Africa, for the salvation of the continent and relief as well from its economic and political hardships;
And finally, as patron saints of politicians, for true Christian governance throughout the world today.

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