Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kampala, Uganda, has died, the Catholic church has said.
Lwanga was said to have been found dead in his bedroom on Saturday.
Fr. Pius Male Ssentumb confirmed the news in a statement released later on Saturday.
“With deep sorrow, I hereby inform you that our beloved Shepherd, the Archibishop of Kampala Archdiocese, His Grace Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga has been called to the House of the Lord. The Archbishop was found dead in his room this morning. We pray that the Almighty and Merciful God may grant him eternal rest. Further arrangements will be communicated later,” he said.
The bishop was last seen in public on April 2, 2021, at Rubaga Catholic church, where he led the homily of Good Friday celebration.
The archbishop was in the spotlight last December, after calling for the postponement of Uganda’s January 2021 elections.
Addressing journalists in Kampala, the country’s capital, Lwanga who appeared with some members of the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) which he chaired, suggested that the presidential elections be postponed for three years, to contain the spread of coronavirus.
He later said his suggestion had been misinterpreted by the public, before he decried growing cases of misinformation on social media.
Reports said during a sermon on Good Friday in April 2018, Lwanga revealed that his life had been threatened by an anonymous caller, who claimed the state had received information linking him to a plot to overthrow the government.
The caller reportedly told him that government had recruited informants within the church’s ‘set up’, who had surrendered information to the president on the alleged plot.
“A few days ago I got a telephone call and on the the telephone you can see the number of the person but it had ‘private’, so I didn’t know [who was calling]. This person had an accent from western Uganda and this is what he told me.
That ‘there are many lies being told to the president’. Two, that ‘even members of these organisations have recruited your priests, your sisters, your brothers, even catechists and even seminarians.’ And I said, ‘what?’ the archbishop said.
“Even this man [anonymous caller] told me last week that be careful my Grace. You might be the next [Janan] Luwum. I said my goodness! If God wants me to die that way, I will. But if I am going to die for wrong accusations, that is criminal. You know for murdering people there are two things; you can shoot a person over what they call character assassination.
“So some members of ESO, ISO, CMI etcetera, they are character assassinating people and that is not good. But fortunately, those of you who are believers, there is still in a period of lent which are concluding tomorrow…I kindly call upon you to repent and stop telling lies,” Lwanga had pleaded.
Meanwhile, President Yuweri Museveni has joined a growing list of government officials, opposition politicians and other members of the public to eulogise the archbishop.
“With profound grief, I have learnt of the death of Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga. I join the Catholic Church, all religious faithful, and the country in mourning Archbishop Lwanga. He has died in faith. May God grant his soul eternal repose,” the president tweeted.
The country’s ICT Minister, Judith Nabakooba, in her condolence message, called for calm and asked the public to refrain from spreading speculations and what she described as false rumors about the death of the archbishop.
“Let us remain calm and wait for the church to give their last word and probably the doctors once they are done with their investigations but right now, we should remain calm and only pray for his soul,” she said.
The National Unity Platform (NUP) president, Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, said it was “a dark day for the Catholic Church, and a dark day for Uganda.”
“I’ve learnt with shock about the sudden death of His Grace Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, the Archbishop of Kampala. It will be very hard to cope with this unimaginable loss,” added the former presidential candidate.
Lwanga was 68 years old.