In Uganda, Francis calls for promotion of good governance and participation in national life

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Pope Francis arrives in Uganda

In Uganda, Francis calls for promotion of good governance and participation in national life

By Iacopo Scaramuzzi

Pope Francis was welcomed by the country’s president, Yoweri Museveni. The Pope praised Uganda for opening its arms to refugees and criticised “the globalization of a ‘throwaway culture’”.

The men and women of Uganda must ensure “good and transparent governance, integral human development, a broad participation in national life, as well as a wise and just distribution of the goods which the Creator has so richly bestowed upon these lands”. Francis pronounced these words in his first speech on Ugandan soil, on what is the second leg of his trip to Africa. His first stop was Kenya and his last stop will be the Central African Republic, where he will travel to on Sunday, leaving for Rome on Monday. Just before 7 pm (Ugandan time), Francis addressed a speech to the Uganda’s leadership, headed by President Yoweri Museveni and the diplomatic corps present in the country. The event took place in the State House’s conference hall in Entebbe.

“My visit to your country is meant above all to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs by my predecessor, Pope Paul VI,” Francis said. “The Martyrs, both Catholic and Anglican, are true national heroes. They bear witness to the guiding principles expressed in Uganda’s motto – For God and My Country. They remind us of the importance that faith, moral rectitude and commitment to the common good have played, and continue to play, in the cultural, economic and political life of this country. They also remind us that, despite our different beliefs and convictions, all of us are called to seek the truth, to work for justice and reconciliation, and to respect, protect and help one another as members of our one human family. These high ideals are particularly demanded of men and women like yourselves, who are charged with ensuring good and transparent governance, integral human development, a broad participation in national life, as well as a wise and just distribution of the goods which the Creator has so richly bestowed upon these lands,” Francis underlined in the speech he delivered in English.

“My visit,” Francis continued, “is also meant to draw attention to Africa as a whole, its promise, its hopes, its struggles and its achievements. The world looks to Africa as the continent of hope. Uganda has indeed been blessed by God with abundant natural resources, which you are challenged to administer as responsible stewards. But above all, the nation has been blessed in its people: its strong families, its young and its elderly. I look forward to my meeting tomorrow with the young, for whom I will have words of encouragement and challenge. How important it is that they be given hope, opportunities for education and gainful employment, and above all the opportunity to share fully in the life of society. But I also wish to mention the blessing which you have in the elderly. They are the living memory of every people. Their wisdom and experience should always be valued as a compass which can enable society to find the right direction in confronting the challenges of the present with integrity, wisdom and vision.”

In East Africa, “Uganda,” the Pope underlined amid applause, “has shown outstanding concern for welcoming refugees, enabling them to rebuild their lives in security and to sense the dignity which comes from earning one’s livelihood through honest labour. Our world, caught up in wars, violence, and various forms of injustice, is witnessing an unprecedented movement of peoples. How we deal with them is a test of our humanity, our respect for human dignity, and above all our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need.” The Pope decried “the globalization of a ‘throwaway culture’ which blinds us to spiritual values, hardens our hearts before the needs of the poor, and robs our young of hope” and concluded his speech with God’s blessing in the local language: ‘Mungu awabariki!’.

The gathering was introduced by President Museveni, who, to coin an expression used by Fr. Federico Lombardi, “is leading the country with a firm hand”. The head of state received Francis at the nearby international airport and held a private meeting with the Pope which lasted almost an hour. Just hours after the Pope’s arrival, the Ugandan parliament passed a contentious law on NGOs. Activists say the law will “stifle” any form of dissent against the government. “The law was unanimously approved,” said the Chief Government Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa. The Ugandan president posted a YouTube video welcoming Pope Francis to the country. In the video, he also expressed the hope that Francis’ visit would strengthen Ugandans’ love for one another.

Fri, 11/27/2015 - 21:24
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