800,000 Attend Papal Envoy's Mass in Uganda

On Feast of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions

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KAMPALA, Uganda, JUNE 3, 2004 (Zenit.org).- At least 800,000 Ugandans attended a Mass celebrated in Namugongo by a papal envoy in memory of St. Charles Lwanga and his companion martyrs.

Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, presided at today’s Eucharistic celebration, on the feast of the Ugandan martyrs in the shrine on the outskirts of Kampala where they were slain in 1885 and 1886. The feast is considered a national holiday.

Father Giulio Albanese, director of the Missionary Service News Agency, said the number of pilgrims «reached 800,000; perhaps they even surpassed 1 million.»

Cardinal Martino, who has been meeting with victims of the war in northern Uganda, highlighted the importance of martyrdom as an expression of holiness.

Holiness is not something extraordinary, but belongs to everyday reality in the faith, Father Albanese reported the cardinal as saying.

In this connection, all Christians are called to be martyrs, «witnesses of the living God,» «sign of contradiction,» «heralds of the Gospel,» of the «Gospel of peace and reconciliation,» he said.

Cardinal Martino said the solution to Uganda’s problems should begin with the commitment of Ugandans themselves. They must be the protagonists of solidarity and mission, he was reported saying.

The cardinal concluded quoting Pope Paul VI: «Starting from this moment, you Africans are your own missionaries.»

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