Pope Francis cheers the crowd from the popemobile at his arrival at the meeting with young people at the Kololo airstrip in Kampala


Pope Tells Young Ugandans Best 'Weapon' They Could Ever Possess Is Prayer

Reminds Youth of 3 Tools Which Can Transform Negative Experiences Into Good

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Can negative situations be turned around and transformed into something good? Pope Francis says yes, as long as you turn to Jesus and His Mother.
During his meeting with Uganda’s young people gathered at Kololo Air Strip in the African nation’s capital of Kampala this afternoon, the Pope listened to the testimonies of a young man and woman and, putting aside his prepared script, reflected how both had had bad experiences, but assured that bad experiences can serve for something in life.
Winnie Nansumba, who lost both her parents by age 7, told Pope Francis about living with HIV and her work to fight AIDS, discrimination and depression. In her testimony, she told her peers, “Take charge of your life and know your (HIV) status. HIV is real.” She reminded them that your body is a temple, saying to beware of STDs, and don’t live in sin. Also, a young man, Emmanuel Odokonyero, shared his tragic story of being in captivity for three months as hostage of the Lord’s Resistance Army when they stormed into the Sacred Heart Minor Seminary, abducting 41 children, including him. He recounted how he managed to escape and spoke on his sorrow for those who died and the impact of his ordeal.

Despite what may seem to be insurmountable challenges, the Pope reminded the young people in response to the testimonies, Jesus makes it clear that that he can work great miracles, transforming walls into horizons, which open to the future. Before a negative experience, he said, acknowledging how many of those in the audience had suffered negative experiences, there is hope.

Not magic, but Jesus

When bitterness and sadness are turned into hope, Francis stressed, “This is not magic, it is a work of Jesus. Because Jesus is Lord! Jesus can do anything! Jesus suffered the most negative experience of history and was insulted, was cast out, and was assassinated. But Jesus with the power of God is risen; He can make each of us have the same outcome with every negative experience because Jesus is Lord.”

Through this “death” of experiencing difficult situations, the Pope noted, there is a life, a life for everyone. “If I transform the negative into the positive, I’m a winner. But this can be done only by the grace of Jesus,” he said.

“Are you sure about this? I cannot hear you!,” he said in dialogue with the crowd of young people. “Are you willing to make in life all the negative things into positive things? Are you willing to turn hate into love? To transform war into peace? You should be aware that you are a people of martyrs. In your veins flows the blood of the martyrs and for that, you have faith and life.”

“They say that the microphone does not work well. Sometimes we also do not function well and when we do not function well, to whom do we go for help? Don’t I feel … stronger … in Jesus! Jesus can change your life. Jesus can break down all the walls in front of you. Jesus can make it so, that your life is service to others.”

“Some of you may ask: ‘So there is a magic wand?’ If you want Jesus to change your life you have to ask Him for help. You must pray. You got it, right? Pray! I ask you: Do you pray? Are you sure? Pray to Jesus because He is the Savior. Never stop praying. Prayer is the most powerful weapon that a young man has. Jesus loves us. I ask you, Jesus loves some, yes, and some no? Jesus loves everyone, doesn’t He? Does Jesus wants to help everyone?”

Open hearts

If you believe this is true, the Pope urged, “open the door of your heart to Jesus and let Him enter into your lives to combat the struggles.” 

“Are you ready to fight? Are you ready to wish the best for yourself? Are you willing to ask Jesus to help you in the fight?” he asked.

He also pointed out a third element, that we all belong to the Church, and the Church has a mother: Mary. “When a child falls, he gets hurt and starts crying, he goes looking for his mother. When we have a problem, the best thing we can do is go where our Mother is and pray to Mary, our Mother. Do you agree? You pray to the Virgin, to our Mother? And I ask you: Do you pray to Jesus and the Virgin Mary, our Mother? (Yesss …)”

So these are the three things, he said, namely to overcome the difficulties, transforming the negative into a positive, and prayer. “Prayer to Jesus who can do anything, Jesus who enters into our hearts and changes our lives. Jesus came to save and to give His life for me,” and also prayer to our Mother Mary.

The Pope concluded, thanking them for listening to him and for their interest in changing the negatives in their lives into positives, with Jesus’ and Mary’s help. He invited them to pray together because our Mother protects us. We agree? All together?

The Holy Father is making an Apostolic Visit to Africa, Nov. 25-30. He arrived in Uganda’s capital of Kampala yesterday, after having been in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi. Tomorrow, he leaves for Central African Republic’s capital of Bangui, where he will visit a refugee camp and open the Holy Door for the Jubilee Year.


On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Translation: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/full-text-pope-s-off-the-cuff-address-to-ugandan-youth


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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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