Pope Laments Murder of Uganda Missionaries

2 Caught in the Middle of Local Fighting

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VATICAN CITY, AUG. 18, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II sent a message of condolence over the killing of two Catholic missionaries in Uganda on Aug. 14.

The two Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus — Father Mario Mantovani, 84, and Brother Godfrey Kiryowa, 29 — were killed by Karimojong guerrillas of northeastern Uganda.

Father Mantovani was born in Italy and had worked in Uganda since 1957. Brother Kiryowa was of Ugandan nationality.

The victims were killed in Lobel, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Kanawat Catholic mission, which is more than 100 kilometers north of Moroto. The religious were traveling in a car that was caught in a confrontation between local belligerents over the theft of cattle.

Brother Kiryowa, the driver, was shot three times, and the priest was killed soon after, officials said. Police arrested a suspect in the murders the next day.

On the Sunday before his death, during a Mass at Kanawat, Father Mantovani said that “the earth is tired of drinking blood.” He was referring to the continual theft of cattle between rival groups in the area, reported Father Giulio Albanese, a Comboni missionary and the director of the Misna agency.

In the telegram sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano to Bishop Denis Kiwanuka of Kotido, Uganda, John Paul II said he “offers fervent prayers for the repose of their souls and sends his sincere condolences to Your Excellency, to the faithful of the Diocese of Kotido, and especially to the families and friends of the victims.”

According to the telegram, published today by the Vatican press office, the Holy Father prays that “all the followers of Christ will be confirmed in their faithful witness to love and reconciliation over the forces of hatred and violence.”

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