By editor - 28 November, 2015
In his address to diplomats and leading figures from Ugandan society on his arrival, the Pontiff called for “good and transparent governance, integral human development and a wide and just distribution” of Africa’s goods.
With a reference to Uganda’s martyrs, the Pope said they were a reminder of “the importance that faith, moral rectitude and commitment to the common good have played and continue to play” in the life of the nation.
He also paid tribute to Uganda’s welcome to and “outstanding concern” for refugees and he underlined that how we deal with refugees “is a test of our humanity.”
The Pope said Uganda’s Catholic and Anglican martyrs were true national heroes who bore witness to the country’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,” he said.
Pope Francis also explained that his visit was 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.”
He said he looked forward on Saturday to meeting the young, for whom he would 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,” the Pope said.
He also paid tribute to the elderly stating, “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.”
Pope Francis on Friday also met catechists and teachers at the Munyonyo shrine situated some 40 kilometres south of the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
In his brief address to the gathering, he encouraged them to persevere in their “rewarding” but “not easy” work and be not just teachers but also “a witness” through their example.
Describing Jesus as our first and greatest teacher, the Pope added, “‘Teacher!’ What a beautiful name this is!”
He noted that St Paul tells us that Jesus gave his Church not only apostles and pastors, but also teachers, to build up the whole body in faith and love. Together with the bishops, priests and deacons who are ordained to preach the Gospel and care for the Lord’s flock, catechists play an outstanding part in bringing the Good News to every village and homestead in the country.
“I wish before all else, to thank you for the sacrifices which you and your families make, and for the zeal and devotion with which you carry out your important task. You teach what Jesus taught, you instruct adults and help parents to raise their children in the faith, and you bring the joy and hope of eternal life to all.”
He thanked them for their dedication, example, closeness to God’s people in their daily lives, and all the many ways they plant and nurture the seeds of faith throughout this vast land.
“Thank you especially for teaching our children and young people how to pray,” he said.
Acknowledging that their work, although rewarding, is not easy, he encouraged them to persevere, and ask their bishops and priests to support them with a doctrinal, spiritual and pastoral formation capable of making them ever more effective in their outreach.
“May Saint Andrew, your patron, and all the Ugandan catechist martyrs, obtain for you the grace to be wise teachers, men and women whose every word is filled with grace, convincing witnesses to the splendour of God’s truth and the joy of the Gospel! Go forth without fear to every town and village in this country, to spread the good seed of God’s word, and trust in his promise that you will come back rejoicing, with sheaves full from the harvest,” the Pope said and he concluded by with the blessing: Omukama Abawe Omukisa! (God bless you!)