06 August 2018, The Tablet

Catholic congregation frisked after wallets stolen during funeral Mass


The funeral was of the late Bishop Emeritus Joseph Oyanga and the theft happened amidst jostling to have a final look at the remains before burial


Catholic congregation frisked after wallets stolen during funeral Mass

Funeral of the late Bishop Emeritus Joseph Oyanga
Photo: Twitter

A Catholic congregation in Uganda was frisked on 26 July after a bishop and Catholic brother had their wallets taken during a requiem Mass.

When Bishop Sanctus Lino Wanok of Nebbi and Brother Betini of Lira Diocese noticed the theft, police officers and other security operatives swung into action and sealed off all exits at Lira Cathedral Chapel and ordered that everyone in the church be frisked. Priests, nuns and relatives of the deceased and politicians were not spared, but many lay people insisted that the bishops should not be put under suspicion.

The funeral was of the late Bishop Emeritus Joseph Oyanga and the theft happened amidst jostling to have a final look at the remains before burial. Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu, Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga of Kampala and Archbishop Emmanuel Obbo of Tororo were all laying their wreaths.

Brother Betini was seen frantically patting his pockets in a desperate search for the wallet he said was taken amidst the pushing of the crowd. “I felt my wallet being pinched but I could not tell who snatched it” he said. “It contained my particulars and 200,000 Kenyan shillings” (around £1,500). The contents of Bishop Wanok’s wallet are not known.

The thief was identified in a funeral video, which included aerial footage of the burial. A man was seen pressing against the clergy and leaving hurriedly. He was one of the porters working at the cathedral.


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