Sect head denies link to Ugandan massacre

The Guardian/April 19, 2000
By Christopher Zinn

The leader of the Australian Catholic sect alleged to have provided perverse inspiration to the Ugandan doomsday cult yesterday rejected any connection with the group.

William Kamm, the self-styled head of the Order of St Charbel in New South Wales - also known as the Marian Workers of Atonement - admitted preaching in Uganda in 1989 but said he would not know Joseph Kibwetere "from a bar of soap".

The leader of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God disappeared last month after a fire at a compound in Kanungu in which more than 330 people died. It is thought that throughout Uganda up to 900 followers may have been killed.

But Mr Kamm, who calls himself "Little Pebble", said: "Our teaching is nothing like what they proceeded to do, because they took their lives. Our teaching is to preserve life, so therefore what eventuated there, as far as I am concerned, is very, very sad."

Mr Kamm, 49, says he is one of a network of seers communicating with the Virgin Mary. He also says that after "mass" at his headquarters at Nowra, 130 miles south of Sydney, Mary regularly appears and that the Pope has given approval to his church.

However, the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, George Pell, has distanced the church from the controversial teachings of Little Pebble.

Mr Kamm said he went to Uganda in October 1989 and spoke on national radio and television for four days "non stop". He said there were 5,000 people at rallies each day, but he did not meet Mr Kibwetere.

"The media already for so many years have been trying to link us with all these doomsday groups, which is totally idiotic, because our group has nothing to do with doomsday," he said.

But the Rev David Milliken, an expert on cults in Australia, said: "Kamm has made a whole series of prophecies over the years about the end of the world and all of them have proved false, and he seems to just power on regardless."

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