Uncle Ted and King Mwanga

Yes, Uncle Ted is Bishop Theodore McCarrick who is accused of long term sexual abuse of boys and vulnerable young men.

He is alleged to have used his significant power as a bishop, archbishop and cardinal to prey on young men and boys. He was a homosexual predator.

And who was King Mwanga? King Mwanga II was the king of Buganda in the 1880s when Africa was being colonized by the European powers. Mwanga expected sexual pleasure from the young male pages at his court. However, the Christian missionaries–both Anglican and Catholic–had made advances into his kingdom and Mwanga was opposed to both their colonial advances and the influence of Christianity.

After killing one steward who resisted —  Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe (who was Catholic) he appointed Charles Lwanga as his steward. Charles converted the young men and boys in the court and taught the pages to resist the king’s homosexual advances.

In 1886 King Mwanga put Charles Lwanga and the boys on trial. Just before this, Charles (who had been Anglican) converted to the Catholic faith. Charles and the boys refused to renounce Christ.

When preparations were completed and the day had come for the execution on 3 June 1886, Lwanga was separated from the others by the Guardian of the Sacred Flame for private execution, in keeping with custom. As he was being burnt, Lwanga said to the Guardian, “It is as if you are pouring water on me. Please repent and become a Christian like me.”

Twelve Catholic boys and men and nine Anglicans were then burnt alive. Another Catholic, Mbaga Tuzinde, was clubbed to death for refusing to renounce Christianity, and his body was thrown into the furnace to be burned along with those of Lwanga and the others. The ire of the king was particularly inflamed against the Christians because they refused to participate in sexual acts with him. Lwanga, in particular, had protected the pages.

I have recently been intrigued and moved by the witness of Charles Lwanga. Last night at our All Saints’ Day Mass I brought the new statue of Charles Lwanga we commissioned and placed it in the upper church. Next to it we placed the first class relic we have of Charles Lwanga.

As I pondered the life of this young martyrs for purity it seemed to me that Charles Lwanga is an especially strong and beautiful intercessor for the church in our age.

How can it be possible that a cardinal of the church can be compared to a pagan African king who suborned young men and boys into sexual acts? Is it fair to compare”Uncle Ted” McCarrick to King Mwanga? I think it is. While McCarrick never sent anyone to be burnt at the stake, he still abused his power and expected boys and young men to submit to his sexual appetites, and using his power over them to get his way.

While this is true, it is better to focus on the heroic virtue of St Charles Lwanga. This young man stood up to the powerful king and even gave his life for purity in the face of homosexual advances and temptations. Charles Lwanga, therefore stands as a brave witness against the onslaught of homosexual abuse, temptation and seduction so prevalent in our society and church.

While I was celebrating Mass I had a wonderful sense of St Charles’ presence with us and around us, and that he is ascendant not only for his stance against abusive power and homosexual predation, but also as an African I believe he stands as a proto martyr for all African Christians in the modern age, and as Africans rise to leadership in the church, St Charles will shine as one of their greatest heroes.

Finally, King Mwanga, after struggling against the British was finally defeated and exiled to the Seychelles where he was eventually baptized and received into the church.

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2018-11-02T12:23:26+00:00November 1st, 2018|Categories: Blog|2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Richard Burke November 2, 2018 at 9:59 am

    Thanks for addressing this important issue with the teaching about so brave a saint.

  2. Myriam Velez November 3, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Thank you for this excellent article so much in tune to the actual crisis in the Church. God bless you and Mary keep you and your family.

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