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Sermon preached by Ugandan Bishop Senyonjo @ CCC, Dublin

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Bishop Christopher Senyonjo

Since 2001, retired Bishop Christopher Senyonjo has spoken out bravely on the subject of homosexuality. I met him briefly on his recent visit to Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. Uganda is currently promulgating some of the most regressive new laws against LGBT people and people with HIV/AIDS, including a possible death penalty. His is one of the few senior church voices publicly opposed to these laws. Here are his sermon notes.

Today’s Gospel reading [Luke 8:26-39] tells us about the healing of a man who was possessed by a legion, that is, by many demons.

What I heard from this gospel reminded me of the wonderful reconciliation that has taken place in Northern Ireland. What a beautiful country you have. But it has been disturbed by unceasing unrest and suffering. Thanks to God, for the new healing that I felt as I walked the streets of your sister city, Belfast.

It is indeed proper to praise God for what his power has done for you here. Each of us should examine ourselves and see whether there are evil spirits in us that need to be healed. Jesus can heal us, just as he healed the man with a legion of demons.

For my part, I know that every day I need Jesus Christ to work on my own doubts, anger, fear; and on the hate of those people who use religion to persecute their fellow human beings.

I find that Jesus is able to help me when I go to Him in prayer. He casts out the demons that attack me daily. I do not know whether you, also, have similar forces that Jesus could deal with.

Jesus said to the man whose demons left him, ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ (Luke 8:39). I truly believe that each of us has some great things God has done for us.

You, as the people of Ireland – you have a very great thing that God has done for you: that is, the reconciliation in Northern Ireland that I have seen. You must now declare to other people that it is possible to bring peace where there is war; prosperity where there is poverty; health where there is disease; and life where is death; and, above all, Love where there is Hate. Jesus wants you to go and tell this to others, so that they, too, may experience hope and change.
In Uganda, where I come from, we too need reconciliation. We must learn from you.

What can we do to prevent the passage of draconian legislation against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people in my country? That bill criminalises LGBT people to the extent that:
• even the words ‘homosexual rights’ must never be mentioned
• failure to report a LGBT person within 24 hours would be a crime
• convicted homosexuals would face prison sentences between 3 and 7 years, life imprisonment, or even the death sentence

So, in Uganda, the heterosexual self-righteous people have drafted this Bill to exterminate the LGBT people. The Bill is draconian. According to President Obama, it is odious. The United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton; former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and others have opposed it. Yet – we still wait to hear loud voices from the churches.

It is the work of the bearers of Christ’s Gospel to go to the aid of the oppressed.

LGBT people are being attacked to the extent of extinction. But they have done nothing to deserve this criminalization. They did not create themselves. As a counsellor, I have shared many of their stories. They are good people who are being systematically abused, beaten up and even killed – for no reason other than simply being themselves. We have not allowed them a safe space to express themselves. Instead, there are law makers who would send them to the gas chambers!

In conclusion, I would like to suggest that we should follow the good example of Ireland where you have been successful in seeking and affirming reconciliation. Heterosexual people throughout the world must now seek reconciliation with those who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. In particular, we in Uganda need your support and solidarity.

Rather than draconian laws, we must encourage education concerning these matters. Such laws are evil, they are genocidal, they do not reflect Kingdom values, they do not reflect the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I now invite you to stand for prayer:
Almighty God, we believe that in Christ there is no discrimination against race, colour, gender, poverty, LGBT people or those who are heterosexual. We pray that you will guide us with your Holy Spirit, so that all hate campaigns, including those against LGBT people may be transformed into peace, justice and reconciliation. Amen.

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

Preached by Bishop Christopher Senyonjo of Uganda
at the Sung Eucharist on Sunday 20 June 2010

Thanks: to Archbishop John Neill
to Dean Dermot Dunne

Bishop Senyonjo was in Ireland at the invitation of Changing Attitude Ireland


Written by Frank McMullan

29 June 2010 at 11:57

Posted in Church

One Response

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  1. […] Here’s an e-mail I sent early last year that I thought might be worthy of putting on my blog. While the offending legislation [which even provided for the death penalty in certain situations] by now may have gone underground – though we can never be certain of that – it is another indication of what people in other parts of our world are up against.  This has a connection with my previous post on Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo’s visit to Ireland. […]

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