The Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) has issued a Pastoral Message on the occasion of His Holiness Pope Francis’ visit to Uganda slated for November 27 to 29.
The Pastoral Message, which was released October 8, calls on all Ugandans to undertake appropriate spiritual preparation so as to be in a fitting state to receive the Pope’s blessings.
“The Pope’s visit and presence during the celebrations requires us to prepare in a special way. The nature of this visit is primarily pastoral and spiritual. Coming to us Pope Francis is carrying out the mission entrusted to Peter by Jesus,” explained the Pastoral Message which was signed by the UEC Chairman and Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese, Most Rev John Baptist Odama.
The Message further read, “As a common gesture which will unite us all in prayer, we ask that before the final blessing of every Mass, as well as in our daily personal, family or community prayer, we recite one ‘Our Father, ‘Hail Mary’ and ‘Glory be to the Father’ for the intentions of the Pope and the success of his visit.”
The Bishops also urged all Ugandans to perform acts of charity towards the poor and to practice works of penance so as to receive the Papal blessing in a worthy manner. “Most importantly, let us make every effort to reconcile and love one another as Christ has loved us,” the statement read in part.
According to the Bishops, the Pontiff’s visit also provides yet another golden opportunity for Ugandans to be instruments of unity, peace and reconciliation in the family and among the various religious, cultural and political groups.
“In a country like ours where unity and national consensus has eluded us for decades, the Pope comes as a bridge builder. This demands of us to imitate Christ who came to serve rather than to be served, it invites us to be servants to one another,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, the Bishops have pointed out a number of challenges that need to be given particular attention. They noted, “We draw to your attention the alarming gap and contradictions between the faith we profess and the life we live, between the gospel and some traditional African practices such as polygamy, cohabitation, trial marriage, witchcraft and human sacrifice. The family is also affected by infidelity, denial of mutual love, child abuse and domestic violence among other things.”
Pope Francis will be the third Supreme Pontiff to visit Uganda after Pope Paul VI in 1969 and Pope John Paul II who made a trip in the country for one week in 1993.