Pope Francis has praised Uganda for its capacity to shelter and give hope to refugees in East Africa.
The Pope made the remarks on Friday while meeting President Yoweri Museveni and the First Lady, Janet Kataaha Museveni, at State House Entebbe.
“Here in East Africa, Uganda 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.”
He said the world was 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 who was happy to be in Uganda said his visit was meant above all to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs by my predecessor, Pope Paul VI.
“But I hope that my presence here will also be seen as a sign of friendship, esteem and encouragement for all the people of this great nation.”
He described the Uganda Martyrs, both Catholic and Anglican, as true national heroes.
“They bear witness to the guiding principles expressed in Uganda’s motto – For God and My Country.”
He said the martyrs remind the world 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.”
According to the Holy Father, 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.
The Pope who is now in Central African Republic said his visit 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.”
He said 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.”
He said it was important that the disadvantaged 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.”