Priest Arrested Conducting Sunday Mass

Just as Rev. Fr. John Bazimenyera prepared to administer Holy Communion to parishioners at St. Peter’s Gisoro Catholic church, Kisoro district, security men moved in and arrested him from the altar.

Bazimenyera’s crime is defying the ban on mass gatherings that in effect requires religious leaders to keep their places of worship closed to the public.

But for Fr. Bazimenyera, such directives cannot apply before God. With two nuns, the priest led more than 40 faithful in the celebration of Holy Mass at St. Peter’s Gisoro Catholic parish in Kisoro Municipality.

As he performed rites leading to Holy Communion, security personnel under the command of Nelson Bataringaya, the commander of Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) 35th Battalion stormed the church, dispersed the Christians and arrested Bataringaya and the two unidentified nuns.

The trio was moved to Kisoro police station where they are being detained.
On March 19, the Uganda Episcopal Conference, the umbrella body of the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Uganda issued guidelines in which it encouraged its clergy to use available communication platforms to lead their flock in prayer than congregating.

“We dispense the faithful from the Sunday obligation to participate in the Holy Mass during this period; however, we encourage all Catholic radio stations to relay and broadcast Holy Mass on Sundays and weekdays,” Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa, the chairperson of Uganda Episcopal Conference said.

“The faithful are advised to tune in at given times which are to be announced by the same radio stations. The faithful are also strongly encouraged to pray at their homes,” Kiyinda-Mityana Diocesan Bishop further guided.

Abel Bizimana, Kisoro LCV Chairperson says that Fr. Bazimenyera should sensitize members of the public about the preventive measures of coronavirus instead of defying presidential directives.

On Saturday, Health Minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng announced the first case of Covid-19 in Uganda. The victim is now isolated at Entebbe Grade B Hospital.


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