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​A test of humanity

· The Pope invites the world to look to Africa, praises Uganda’s generous commitment to welcoming refugees, and speaks of the current ecumenism of blood ·

Welcoming those who flee from war, violence and injustice is “a test of our humanity, our respect for human dignity, and above all our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need”. After leaving Kenya on Friday afternoon, 27 November, the Pope arrived in Uganda, the second leg of his stay on African soil. He immediately praised “the outstanding concern” that the African country has shown in its hospitality to refugees. “Here in East Africa”, he said, the people of Uganda have allowed those fleeing from war and misery “to rebuild their lives in security and to sense the dignity which comes from earning one’s livelihood through honest labour”. After all, he noted, “our world, caught up in wars, violence, and various forms of injustice, is witnessing an unprecedented movement of peoples”.

In an address he delivered at the State House in Entebbe, the Pope encouraged “the many quiet efforts being made to care for the poor, the sick and those in any kind of trouble”. Because, he explained, “it is in these small signs that we see the true soul of a people”. He then praised Uganda’s people for helping the world to grow closer, but also cautioned against giving in to a “‘throwaway culture’ which blinds us to spiritual values, hardens our hearts before the needs of the poor, and robs our young of hope”.

The Pope had begun by reiterating the main reason for his visit: the 50th anniversary of the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs. This theme returned when, after leaving Entebbe for Kampala, he stopped in Munyonyo, where the persecution that led to the martyrdom of many Christians, Anglicans and Catholics, had begun. Meeting there with catechists, Francis spoke about the role of lay people in the evangelization of the country and in keeping alive the witness of the martyrs. He emphasized that the catechists’ task “a holy work”, and exhorted them to “be teachers, but this is not enough; you also have to be witnesses”, and moreover, to be “witnesses of holiness”. He called them to “go forth without fear” to every corner of the country “to spread the good seed of God’s word”.

Again on Saturday morning, Francis spoke about the witness of the Uganda Martyrs as he celebrated a large Mass for the people in the Shrine of the Martyrs of Namugongo. In his homily, he recalled that “the worldly pleasures and earthly power do not bring lasting joy or peace”, and returned to a theme important to his magisterium: the “ecumenism of blood”, which united Catholics and Anglicans in martyrdom and which today continues to unite Christians of every confession.

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St. Peter’s Square

July 18, 2018

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