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Bishop Kaggwa to Be Remembered As a Champion of Social Justice, Development

Just like his predecessors Archbishop Joseph Kiwanuka; -the first African Bishop- and Bishop Adrian Kivumbi Ddungu, Kaggwa’s reign at the helm of Masaka diocese stretched from being a spiritual leader to touch every aspect of human life including those outside his jurisdiction of Masaka diocese.
Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa

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The Catholic church in Uganda is mourning the demise of the Right Reverend John Baptist Kaggwa, a bishop who stood tall in championing peace, justice, democracy and social development in his pastoral mission. 

Just like his predecessors Archbishop Joseph Kiwanuka; -the first African Bishop- and Bishop Adrian Kivumbi Ddungu, Kaggwa’s reign at the helm of Masaka diocese stretched from being a spiritual leader to touch every aspect of human life including those outside his jurisdiction of Masaka diocese. 

From speaking to the powers that be, about their leadership excesses to ensuring personal and family growth, Bishop Kaggwa has also been described as a social activist in a priests' robes that Uganda has had in him for over the last 25 years. 

Without mincing his words, Kaggwa could use every opportunity availed to him, to speak out his mind and raise demand for social justice despite the implications his statements could cause him or even the church.Some who use different lenses ended up describing him as a controversial bishop, while others admired his brave character and his demeanor to remain truthful, and continuously agitating for a country that benefits its citizens equitably. 

At the height of the controversial enforcement of the Public Order Management Act, Bishop Kaggwa spoke out against the selective application of the law when he criticized police for misusing their authority to narrow the space for a section of artistes and political actors that have diverse views from the government's.   //Cue in: “we are noticing…. Cue out; …their talents.”//

Luganda //Cue in: “banna Uganda tuyitiridde…. Cue out; …..abalala n’ebakigurwa.”//  

At several moments, Bishop Kaggwa who obtained Doctorate in Canon law, couldn't avoid integrating his biblical sermons with citations from the Uganda Constitution for purposes of emphasizing his points.

In one of his last sermons, Kaggwa decried what he described as false interpretation of Uganda land law, to benefit the few wealthy landlords that have deprived the many poor tenants of their rights, by executing massive evictions that have created several homeless families in the different parts of the country.     

//Cue in: “we have the question…. Cue out; ….risen Christ.”//

Before his retirement April 2019 and eventual demise on Wednesday, Kaggwa strongly agitated for building of stable families that form the strong foundations for both the Church and society.  

//Cue in: (Luganda) “amaka yeeri…. Cue out; ….bangi abawereza.”//

In 2020, a year when Masaka Diocese missed the opportunity of leading the annual Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations in Namugongo shrines after the festivities were called off due to outbreak of Covid-19, Bishop Kaggwa remained positive while other clergy and laity were in despair over the cancellation of the mega religious pilgrimage excursion.   According to him the cancellation of the event instead presented to the church a challenge of embrace the use of technology and the social communication channels in harnessing evangelization.    

//cue in: “this years’ celebration…. Cue out; ……don’t lose heart.”//  

As we approached the 2020-2021 electoral cycle, the prelate warned government on preparing what had been described as virtual elections, saying in June 2020: “How will I vote without seeing my candidate? My opinion is that if we cannot have the usual campaigns let government extend the elections for two years so that people can freely choose their new leaders without the current restrictions.” 

Back in day when he was appointed Bishop of Masaka, he faced a challenge of being welcomed by the people of Masaka as he was not born in the area. Many people wondered whether the then little-known priest could fit in the big shoes of his predecessors.

“Masaka diocese was already a beacon of the Catholic faith and I was to succeed two great men who had committed themselves to serving the diocese, which really was a challenge,” Bishop Kaggwa said in one of the past interviews with our reporters praising the firm foundation by the two giants he succeeded, which he said will last forever. 

Although rating him alongside the duo was a challenge, it had a silver lining since it gave him courage which saw him serving his flock enthusiastically till death. 

Kaggwa also fought hard to ensure a self-sustaining diocese initiating several income generating projects such Bishop's Annual Appeal Fund commonly known as BAAFU and also strengthening is the Masaka Diocesan Development Organization (MADDO) which is a social services and development commission of the diocese. 

In spiritual terms, the bishop made tremendous strides to shepherd the flock given to him by putting emphasis on the family and children, so religious formation and morals are imparted from that smallest unit.

Hajj Ibrahim Katale, one the prominent Muslims in Masaka and former Buddu Deputy County Chief describes the late Kaggwa as a rare person and peace maker who embraced people of all walks of life. 

                   

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