Bishops write pastoral letters after murder of David Kato

The Bishops of the Dioceses of Rio Grande, Vermont, and New York wrote pastoral letters after the murder of David Kato:

From Bishop Michael Vono of the Diocese of Rio Grande

29 January 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

In the past several weeks there have been faithful Christians killed while worshipping in Alexandria, a mass murder in Tucson, unrest and chaos in Egypt and Tunisia and other places in the Middle East and Africa. Last week there was an unconscionable murder of a Christian Ugandan gay rights activist, David Kato, which has shocked, disturbed and deeply saddened both spiritual and political leaders worldwide. All these murders are a seamless pattern of irrational hatred, violence and injustice. We, as Episcopal Anglicans, believe in our Baptismal promise “to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.” We have been courageously bold in calling the Christian Church to combat the rise of violence and hatred increasing in the world community especially in African countries. In Uganda, adhering to irrational unjust draconian laws, the government continues to call for death and imprisonment of homosexual people, and is complacent in outlawing a public magazine which legally calls for the blatant killing of gay people. Many Ugandans would consider their country largely Christian .These acts of violence are repugnant to the teachings of Jesus Christ. They blatantly disregard the God given dignity and sanctity of every human life. We are taught in the Ten Commandments, “You shall not commit murder. Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I invite you to join me in solidarity of prayer and a public recommitment to strive for justice and reconciliation among all people. As Christians in this third millennium, we must witness to the Christ of God who did not keep silence in the face of injustice and violence. As I would not have been able to keep silence had I been living in Nazi Germany when Jews were murdered because they were Jews, likewise I cannot keep silence in this age as homosexual people are murdered simply because they are homosexual. As David Kato’s gentle and loving voice had been effective giving hope and inspiration to numerous discarded people, so also our strong voice of faith and prayer must be heard. May the Lord forgive us our sins and heal the wounds of humanity’s lack of compassion and love.

My prayers and support remain with all those who have been spiritually affected by these tragedies.


Bishop Michael

By the Right Reverend Thomas Clark Ely, Bishop of the Diocese of Vermont

February 1, 2011

On January 26, David Kato, a leader in a support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) Ugandans was brutally murdered in his home in Mukono, Uganda. While police are treating the murder as the result of a robbery, Kato’s friends and associates, as well as supporters outside Uganda, believe the fatal beating was an act of hate likely inspired by the current anti-gay climate in Uganda. Kato, an Anglican, had received death threats, particularly since October 2010, when his picture appeared on the front page of a newspaper with the headline “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos Leak,” and a banner reading “Hang Them.”

Vermont Episcopalians are fortunate to live in a state where our baptismal call to “respect the dignity of every human being” is reflected in our laws and, for the most part, in our social environment. In Uganda, on the other hand, one can be put in prison for life for being LGBT, and even more draconian legislation that would impose the death penalty has been proposed.

Our good fortune could easily lead to complacency, but I believe it is instead a charge—almost a command—to stand in solidarity with those in Uganda and all parts of the world whose lives are endangered and diminished for who they are as LGBT human beings. It is a charge to speak out and call upon our political and religious leaders to do all in their power to bring an end to the climate of hate and fear that affects so many of our sisters and brothers around the world.

Unfortunately, church leaders, including some in the Anglican Communion, have been complicit in creating that climate of hate and fear. I am grateful that others have spoken out in opposition. I join with them in an emphatic call for both church and society to respect the dignity of all God’s children. And, as Archbishop Desmond Tutu would say, ALL, ALL, ALL are God’s beloved.

President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and many of the world’s political leaders have condemned Kato’s murder and the anti-gay climate in which it took place. Many have encouraged them to be sensitive to LGBT asylum seekers who attempt to enter the US. I support that effort.

Responding to Kato’s murder, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said, “No one should have to live in such fear because of the bigotry of others…. This is a moment to take very serious stock and to address those attitudes of mind which endanger the lives of men and women belonging to sexual minorities.”

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said Kato’s murder “deprives his people of a significant and effective voice, and we pray that the world may learn from his gentle and quiet witness, and begin to receive a heart of flesh in place of a heart of stone. May he rest in peace, and may his work continue to bring justice and dignity for all God’s children.”

Please join Bishop Katharine and me in praying for David Kato, for those living in fear because of who they are, and for a heart of flesh to take hold in those who would persecute their fellow children of God because of who they are drawn to love.

From the Bishops of the Diocese of New York

Bishops Sisk, Roskam and Smith issued the following statement January 28.

January 28, 2011

Like many around the world, we are horrified to learn of the vicious murder of Ugandan LGBT rights activist David Kato in Mukono, Kampala. Though the circumstances of Mr. Kato’s death are still under investigation, we know that he, along with other activists in Uganda have lived under the threat of violence and imprisonment in recent times. Mr. Kato, who was the advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda, as well as Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo and many others, was targeted last fall in a Ugandan magazine. All LGBT persons along with their advocates are at risk due to the general hostility toward them in Uganda and, in particular, due to pending legislation which would call for imprisonment or even death.

We call upon all people of good will, and especially the people of the Episcopal Diocese of New York and our sister and brother Anglicans around the world, to stand in solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons, and to resist language, laws and actions which marginalize and even criminalize their relationships. Further, given the current hostile climate in Uganda, we call upon the Anglican church of Uganda to speak up for human rights for all God’s children. Further, we call upon the United States government to grant asylum to LGBT persons from Uganda and other nations where the threat of violence is great.

We pray for the repose of the soul of David Kato, for his family and friends as they mourn, and for the LGBT community in Uganda and their allies as they struggle for an end to the fear and violence, which threaten them every day.


The Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk

Bishop of New York


The Rt. Rev. Catherine S. Roskam

Bishop Suffragan of New York


The Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith

Assistant Bishop of New York

Past Posts