The Archbishop of Kampala, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga has called upon Christians to intercede for a miracle upon which the Holy See will process the beatification and eventual canonization of former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere.
Lwanga made the remarks while leading the annual Nyerere Memorial Mass at Uganda martyrs’ shrines at Namugongo. The mass was attended by pilgrims from Uganda and Tanzania and members of the Nyerere Family.
Julius Nyerere, fondly known as Mwalimu, a Swahili word for teacher, was the A of Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania after independence. Nyerere was known for his active prayer life and frequent fasting with several publications referring to him as a devout Catholic who attended Mass daily throughout his public life.
He died in 1999, revered by his people as the father of the Nation (Baba wa Taifa). Following his death, Tanzanian bishops in the Diocese of Musuma, opened a cause for his beatification, with Vatican approval, in 2006.
Archbishop Lwanga trusts that the fact that the church accepted the cause of the beatification of Nyerere when Pope Benedict XVI declared him a servant of God is a sign indicating that he was a special Christian. The acceptance is the first step towards the much-anticipated beatification and canonization to sainthood.
He, however, notes that if Nyerere is to be beatified, there must be a miracle effected through his intercession and must be above scientific interpretation, and called upon the faithful’s to continue with the intercessory prayers through the departed president of Tanzania.
Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni described Nyerere as devoted Catholic, patriot and Pan Africanist and praised him for liberating his fellow countrymen and Africans from colonialism. He said that as the martyrs persevered in fires of Namugongo, Nyerere equally faced such a time when sectarians and hostile governments plotted to surround Tanzania.
Since 2009, Uganda celebrated Nyerere day, which was declared during a mass at Namugongo following a request by the former Tanzanian president’s family as part of the quest for his beatification and canonization.
For one to be declared saint in the Catholic church, there are a number of complex processes that are followed including passing through the steps of a declaration of ‘heroic virtues’.