Uganda Martyrs’ Day 2023

In communion with the Universal Church

Uganda Martyrs' Day

In communion with the Universal Church, we honour today 22 Ugandan martyrs, the first of sub-Saharan Africa. When one is familiar with the beginnings of the Church, especially around the areas that are very near to us, one perceives certain similarities between the persecution of the Uganda Martyrs and that of those of Ancient Rome. Most of the men killed at and on the way to Namugongo had been baptized for only a short time. Their story reminds us of what we can call the paradoxical reality of Christian life or what can be a bitter side of the Gospel truth boldly announced by Saint Paul and all those who had the experience of Jesus and felt compelled to announce him: “All who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”! And as Saint Luke puts it, “whoever loses his life for my sake will save it”! This is far away from the prosperity-gospel that seduces many of us.

Our adhesion to Jesus, our adhesion to the Christian faith that is celebrated in baptism calls us to new life. It calls for some death to something in us but more importantly, it calls to a birth that asks of us to walk daily in the newness of life in Christ. We are invited to position ourselves in the world in the “eschatological dimension” where we examine everything we feel, everything we think, everything we hear and do, from a new perspective that takes our present life, marked by the resurrection of Christ ever more seriously. This type of life becomes necessarily a witness, a witness that can prove to be disturbing. This is where we are called to be steadfast and to persevere. That is the life Jesus lived in a world unfriendly to God. This is what is asked of Jesus’ followers.

They say there are around three million people flocking to Namugongo! To do what? Only to sympathise with men who were brutally burnt to death more than a century ago? What is it that draws people to Namugongo? The same should be said about Jesus, what is so attractive for more than two and half billion people in the World about a man who was crucified and died on a cross? And what is the beauty about the 19 martyrs of Algeria among whom there are four of our own? The underlying truth about all of them is the passion for God. The passion for God our Creator and our relation to him that invites us live in his ways as revealed by the Word and by Jesus himself.

The feast of today also makes us think about those through whom the Good news reached the Martyrs, our confreres who first announce the Good News in Uganda and the boldness with which they must have announced the new life in Christ. May the commemoration of the Uganda Martyrs revive in us that passion for God that put us on the way to discipleship.

Stanley LUBUNGO,
Superior General

Official Communication, Rome, 19th May 2023


Father Stanley LUBUNGO, Superior General,
after consultation of the confreres concerned and individual dialogue
with the confreres chosen,
has with the consent of his Council appointed

Father Gilbert R. BUJIRIRI
Provincial Assistant of the Province of Eastern Africa,

and Father Bernard N. GACHURU
Provincial Assistant of the Province of Central Africa

for a first mandate of three years starting on 1st July 2023.

Rome, 19th May 2023
Secretary General

Roma Cura Roma 2023

Missionaries of Africa Join “Roma Cura Roma” Initiative

On 6 May 2023, Rome municipal authority organized a clean-up of the city of Rome. Among the 323 associations registered were the Missionaries of Africa, residing in the Generalate, Rome (cf. Roma Cura Roma – Missionari d’Africa – Padri Bianchi).

At 9:30 am., we gathered in front of our Generalate. Once the tools needed were ready, we moved to start the work. 13 members of the Generalate volunteered for the clean-up activity.

Some pedestrians were surprised to see us cutting the grass, collecting trash, scrubbing, sweeping the street, unblocking gutters, etc. Others were also amazed. They asked us if we had been hired by the municipal authorities. It was time to explain to them that we were doing the work on voluntary basis. “So, you are priests?”, some asked. They were grateful and encouraged us to continue.

For more than two hours we cleaned the street leading to Valle Aurelia metro station. At the end, we collected bags filled with plastics, glass bottles, plants, dry leaves, etc. Everything that was compostable, we brought it to the compost in our garden.

As we were getting ready to come back to the house, we spoke on phone with one of the organizers from the municipality. He thanked us for our generosity and the work well done. We were very happy to have been able to contribute to the beauty of the city of Rome. We offered our small contribution to the care of our common home, as Pope Francis in his Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si’ calls us to do. It is worth noting that last year, around the same time, the Via Aurelia Pilgrims carried out the same initiative.

Roma Cura Roma (“Rome takes care of Rome”) is a day dedicated to the collective care of streets, squares, parks, and green areas in all the municipalities. According to Rome Today, an online newspaper, “There were 432 collective care interventions in the city. Over 15,000 citizens involved for a total of 323 associations.”

P. Harelimana

Benedict XVI : Memories

Benedict XVI : Memories

+ Michael Cardinal Fitzgerald, M.Afr.

I had more to do with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) than with him as Pope Benedict XVI.

According to the rules laid down in Pastor Bonus, the reform of the Roman Curia under Pope John Paul II, all dicasteries had to have the approval of the CDF before publishing any document that touched upon theology. This was the case for Dialogue and Proclamation, published in 1991 by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID. Become now the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue) together with the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (CEP). This involved three-way meetings of the top officials of the CDF, CEP and PCID. Cardinal Ratzinger was always well-prepared with written notes. He never bluffed his way with many words in answer to a question. He was always precise and polite in presenting his opinion.

Cardinal Ratzinger, at the request of a former student of his who had been chosen as the Orthodox bishop of Chambésy, Switzerland, became a founder member of the Foundation for Inter-cultural and Interreligious Dialogue based in Geneva. Before he was elected Pope, he asked me to replace him on the Board of the Foundation. I mention this because it shows that he had confidence in me. When, in 2006, so during his pontificate, I was sent to Egypt as Nuncio, it was not because Pope Benedict disagreed with my attitude towards Islam and relations with Muslims, as the social media at the time insisted.

The same media stated that had I been still the President of the PCID Pope Benedict would have shown me the draft of his lecture at Regensburg in September 2006 and the conflict that ensued with Muslims would have been avoided. I think, though I have no way of verifying this assertion, that Pope Benedict would not have asked the advice of anyone in preparing a lecture to be delivered at the university where he used to teach.

Had I been consulted I would have said that speaking about Muhammad is like treading on holy ground, and so it is necessary to have the delicacy to take off one’s shoes and tread lightly. One can understand the reaction among Muslims to the negative quotation that Pope Benedict used in his Regensburg speech. As one Muslim leader said to me at the time: “If Pope Benedict had said ‘I don’t agree with this’ there would have been little reaction, but unfortunately it was only later that it was made clear he did not agree with the quotation.” (On this whole question of the Regensburg lecture, see the special dossier in Islamochristiana 32(20060) pp.273-297).

During his pontificate Pope Benedict did not receive Nuncios in audience, which is strange since Nuncios are the personal representatives of the Sovereign Pontiff. This meant that between 2006 and 2012 I had no relations with him. After retiring I was granted a private audience and found that Pope Benedict was well briefed on Egypt and had many questions about the situation there. He had, after all, presided over the special Synod of Bishops for the Middle East and published the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente.

We will miss him for a long time

The death of a confrere is often a source of sadness, but the one of Richard, Cardinal Richard, is felt as a tragedy because it is difficult for us to separate it from the succession of events since May. He was appointed Cardinal, then President of SECAM, he came to Rome for the consistory and for this we mobilised ourselves to give thanks and celebrate here at the Generalate, receiving delegations and friends from all over! All of a sudden, everything stopped!

Since his death, we have tried to make sense of it all. Only one feeling prevails: only God knows. It is only in faith, in the word of God, that we have found consolation, for faith and the word do indeed bring us back to what we deeply are, brothers and sisters of Christ, adopted sons and daughters destined for the fullness of life in God. Baptised with Christ into death, as we heard in the first reading, Richard entered and still lives in the new life. We believe that, as in his life he ate the “living bread that came down from heaven”, he will “live forever” and we hope that we too will live with him when the time comes.

Allow me to share a word about Cardinal Richard. Those who lived with him appreciated his total commitment to the good of the Society and of the confreres. Richard was a great worker but he was also a charming companion. As we know, his health was not good and several times he had to stop and had to be hospitalised. But when he was discharged, he was back at it again: trips, visits, meetings and conferences. Richard had become a true representative of our Society and an icon for many of us. His last appointments show how much his intelligence, his clear-sightedness and his commitment were recognised at the level of the Church in Africa and of the Universal Church.

During the Mass of thanksgiving for his nomination as Cardinal that I presided over here, I mentioned how happy we were to welcome different delegations in the house where he lived for 16 years! That’s longer than he lived anywhere else in the same place! It is beautiful in a way that it is in this house that he spent his last days on earth.

We will miss him for a long time. We pray that he may rest in peace and be reunited in joy with the One he served so well.

Father Stanley Lubungo,
Superior General
Farewell Mass – 19/12/2022

Pontifical Urbaniana University, Mass for H.E. Richard Kuuia Baawobr,


Before the body of the late Cardinal, His Eminence Richard Kuuia Baawobr, M.Afr., leaves Rome for the funeral in Ghana, which will take place on January 11 and 12, 2023, a Eucharistic celebration will take place on Saturday, December 17, 2022, in the chapel of the Pontifical Urbaniana University, at 10.30 a.m. It will be presided over by His Eminence Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization. Concelebrants are asked to bring alb and purple stole.

Rome, December 9, 2022

Andre-L. Simonart, M.Afr.,
Secretary General

The Immaculate Conception 2022 GMG

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Generalate 2022

It struck me this time, more than before that the Immaculate Conception is celebrated during the Season of Advent. During advent, the Church urges us to renew the memory of the great love God has shown to us by sending his Son to dwell among us. We recall that Christ’s coming was not only for the benefit of his contemporaries; his power extends to all of us, if through faith we willingly accept the grace he brought to the world if we live in obedience to him.

The coming of Jesus the saviour announces salvation. Though we essentially understand this in terms of our communion with God, which is the grace of the incarnation, the readings of the past days, much to our benefit in the situations that we are facing as humanity but also as the Lavigerie family, inspire in us consolation, strength, inner peace and trust in the Lord, and in so doing, lead us to look to our salvation in terms of redemption from all that enslaves us, brief, from the burden and consequences of sin in its various dimensions whether personal or social.

The coming of the Lord announces new times. It announces a new era for humanity and for the universe: where “the lowly will find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice in the Holy one of Israel, for the tyrant will be no more and the arrogant will have gone” (Is 29: 18-18), it is a time where sin and its consequences of injustice will be no more! That newness is part God’s eternal and loving plan of salvation as the letter to the Ephesians actually proclaims: We were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy, to be blameless, immaculate, before him in love to the praise of God’s glorious grace. Mary in the dogma that we are celebrating: the Immaculate Conception or the belief that the Virgin Mary was free of original sin from the moment of her conception,  appears to be the new and concrete realisation of God’s eternal and loving plan of Salvation. Though we are marked by the story of sin, which is our experience, can still say with Saint Paul in the letter to the Ephesians that like Mary we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy, to be blameless, immaculate, before him in love to the praise of God’s glorious grace

The important thing then becomes for us to seek to live up to this? How can we live up to the God’s call for us before the foundations of the world. It is here that Mary becomes for us, with reference to Eve, the new mother of all the living. With her begins a new era. The era of our forefathers and foremothers, Adam and Eve with its structures marked by Satan’s power have been undone in her. Mary also becomes the example of the new people of God, meant to obey God. We now know, with Adam and Eve, where disobeying to God leads. We know where sin leads. By God’s grace a new era starts with Mary. We may ask what is the example set up by Mary.

Not much is said of her in the Gospels, but one essential feature characterises her, she is a woman of faith and of trust in God, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” This is where her greatness of lies, if we may say so. It is what Jesus indicates as such. Mary’s greatness did not lie, as some thought, in the fact that her womb carried Jesus nor that her breast nursed him (Lk 11: 27-28), but in the fact that she heard the word of God and obeyed it! A thing that Adam and Eve did not do! Jesus’ mother, sisters and brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.

As we continue our journey through this season of Advent let us open ourselves more and more to God’s grace for it to remove any obstacles to his presence so that he may come at any moment to dwell spiritually in our hearts and in our lives and the lives of all, for the establishment of his Kingdom among us.

Stan Lubungo

A bishop close to his people

A bishop close to his priests and his people

In his homily at the Mass on Monday, 5 December, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops since 2010, underlined some of the virtues of Cardinal Richard Kuuia Baawobr, such as his great spirituality, his missionary spirit and his remarkable intelligence.

A thoughtful zeal to proclaim eternal truths.
Cardinal Re outlines the various stages of the life of the Bishop of Wa, from his birth into a Catholic family on 21 June 1959 in Nandom in the Lawra District of Ghana to his death on 27 November 2022 in Rome.

Cardinal Re emphasized that Richard Kuuia Baawobr’s life is marked by a spirit of initiative, organisational skills, and a thoughtful diligence in proclaiming the eternal truths of the Gospel, with the language and style of the new times. He also understood that the missionary commitment of the Society of Missionaries of Africa should not be limited to Africa but should also be extended to countries with a Catholic tradition, which were in need of the Word of God and of a revival in the renewal of faith and Christian witness.

With him went a very significant figure of “the African bishop“.
In 2016 Richard Kuuia Baawobr was appointed bishop of Wa by Pope Francis; he was a pastor close to his priests and his people; always available to meet and say a word of kindness to those around him. He knew deeply “the responsibility that lay upon him by virtue of being a successor of the Apostles”. Last July, the plenary assembly of the episcopate of Africa and Madagascar elected him as its president, emphasised Cardinal Re, and affirmed that “with him disappears a very significant figure of the ‘African bishop'”.

The dean of the college of cardinals also emphasised that “this unexpected death, although it has caused consternation, is part of God’s inscrutable plan, mysterious but always inspired by love and strengthened by the immortal certainties of faith.

Commitment to mission in a spirit of openness.
In July 2020, the Holy Father appointed him as a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. This was the beginning of a close collaboration with the Apostolic See. In many situations he was seen as an industrious protagonist with a great sense of responsibility, a desire to do good and driven by an innate missionary spirit,” Cardinal Re continued. The Bishop of Wa was engaged in intense pastoral activity, with a view to a future at the service of the Church and humanity. Cardinal Baawobr gave much and seemed to promise even more. But “God’s ways are not our ways“, concluded Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re.

Cardinal Richard Baawobr

Official Communication

   On Saturday 15 October 2022 our confrere, Cardinal Richard Baawobr, was transferred from the Santo Spirito di Cassia Hospital to the Gemelli University Hospital with the help of the Vatican in order to receive the special care he still needs. Richard sends his greetings to all of you, keeps his spirits high and remains alert to what is happening in his diocese and in the Society. We continue to accompany our confrere with our prayers so that he may recover all his strength and quickly resume his ministry.

Rome, 19th October 2022.

André-Léon Simonart,
Secretary General.