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I will Continue Promoting Peace in My Retirement-Odama :: Uganda Radionetwork
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I will Continue Promoting Peace in My Retirement-Odama

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Speaking to Uganda Radio Network in an interview over the weekend, Archbishop Emeritus Odama noted that throughout his tenure as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Gulu, his life centered on peace promotion.
Archbishop Emeritus John Baptist Odama consoles a christian shortly after announcing his retirement on March 22 2024 at St Joseph's Cathedral in Gulu City.

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Archbishop Emeritus John Baptist Odama has pledged to continue promoting peaceful existence and dialogues among communities within and outside the Acholi Sub-region during his retirement.

His statement comes days after retiring as the first Metropolitan Archbishop of Gulu where he served for 25 years since his ordination on April 10, 1999. Archbishop Emeritus Odama will be replaced by Rt. Rev. Raphael p'Mony Wokorach, who was appointed by Pope Francis on Friday, March 22. Until his appointment, the 63-year-old prelate was the Bishop of Nebbi Catholic Diocese.

Speaking to Uganda Radio Network in an interview over the weekend, Archbishop Emeritus Odama noted that throughout his tenure as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Gulu, his life centered on peace promotion. He notes that while he has retired from active leadership as an Archbishop, he will continue advocating for peaceful coexistence within the country and the neighboring war-torn South Sudan.

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According to Archbishop Odama, his passion for peace promotion led him along with other religious leaders to advocate for the initiation of a peace talk between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander Joseph Kony.

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The LRA rebels led by their elusive leader Kony waged a two-decade bloody rebellion against President Museveni’s government from 1986 leading to the deaths of tens of thousands of people and the displacement of over 1 million others.   

Between 2006 and 2008, under the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), Odama acted as an adviser and observer of the Juba peace talk in which the government and LRA delegations held a back-and-forth dialogue on ending conflicts.

Although Kony failed to sign the Juba peace pact, Odama who headed ARLPI as Chairperson in 2002-2010 says their efforts ushered in peace in the sub-region.

Owing to his efforts in the restoration of Peace in Northern Uganda, Archbishop Emeritus Odama was awarded the Peacemaker Prize accolade from World Vision International in 2012. Equally, in 2017, Gulu University awarded Odama an honorary Doctor of Philosophy for his outstanding role in the restoration of peace.

Following his retirement on Friday, some laity members at Gulu Archdiocese however expressed concern over the appointment of a non-native as the Archbishop of Gulu.

Mathew Simon Ojok, the Chairperson of the Laity at Gulu Archdiocese told Uganda Radio Network that they had anticipated a son of the soil would this time be appointed the metropolitan Archbishop of Gulu.

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Archbishop Emeritus Odama however called for calm among the Christians arguing that the appointing authorities centered on merit to get a new Archbishop for Gulu.

He also noted that while many expected him to still lead, he sought resignation after clocking the 75-year age limit according to the Canon law order.

Odama now 76 years wrote his resignation letter to His Holiness Pope Francis in 2022 after clocking 75 years but was only granted on March 22 this year.

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Archbishop Odama will in the meantime take on a new role as the Apostolic Administrator of Gulu Archdiocese until the Pope fixes a date for the installation of the new Metropolitan Archbishop Rt. Rev Wokorach.

About Odama's Priesthood Journey Archbishop Emeritus Odama was ordained a priest on 14 December 1974. On February 23, 1996, he was appointed the Bishop of Nebbi Diocese and later ordained on May 26, 1996. 

On January January 2, 1999, Odama was appointed the first Metropolitan Archbishop of Gulu where he served for 25 years until his retirement on March 22 this year.

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