Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament on Tuesday observed a moment of silence in the honour of the late Archbishop Jonah Lwanga of the Orthodox Church.
Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga died on Sunday evening in Athens, Greece where he went for missionary work more than a month ago and fell ill. Born in 1945, just before Orthodox was recognized as a religion in Uganda despite having been established in the 1900’s, Metropolitan Lwanga led the Orthodox Church since May 1997.
He replaced Theodoros Nankyama who died in 1996.
“I have learnt of the demise of the Archbishop of the Orthodox Church in Uganda, His Eminence Jonah Lwanga who passed away in Athens, Greece where he was reportedly rushed due to illness,” said Speaker Jacob Oulanyah in his communication to Parliament on Tuesday.
Oulanyah described the late Archbishop as a true spiritual leader who was unequivocal on issues of human rights and democracy. He asked MPs to stand and observe a moment of silence for the deceased.
Lwanga has also been hailed for being outspoken on human rights abuses and democracy in the country. In 2019, the late Archbishop said that the ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM leadership would collapse for disturbing peace, progress and prosperity of Uganda.
He noted that Ugandans would suffer human rights abuse until the ruling party is dissolved and this statement was in response to the rampant killings and violation of human rights.
The body of the fallen Metropolitan Lwanga is yet to be brought into the country. On Monday, Rev. Father John Kibuuka Bbosa, the chairperson of the Orthodox Property Custodian Board of Trustees, said that the Archbishop’s condition worsened while in Greece where he was admitted and was expected to leave the hospital only to receive bad news of his passing on Sunday evening.
He explained that the death of Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga is a trying moment for the Orthodox community but said they have to soldier on and that arrangements for his replacement were being made by the Holy Synod for Africa in Alexandria in Egypt. The synod comprises all Archbishops of the Orthodox churches in Africa.
“We have suitable candidates like Bishop Silvesto Kisitu who is now serving in Gulu. We have other two Ugandans who have been fully prepared to take on this responsibility to the rank of Archimandrites like Rev. Father Archimandrite Constantino Mbonbingi who now heads the leadership committee of the Uganda Joint Christian Council [UJCC] and Archimandrite Mectarios Kabuye. We trust the patriarchate will choose from these but whichever the choice we welcome it.”
Nairobi’s Archbishop Makarios has now been chosen as caretaker Archbishop of the Holy Metropolis of Kampala and all Uganda until a new leader is elected.
The tentative burial ground for the late Archbishop Lwanga is Degeya, Bombo in Luweero district.