How ready is Uganda to Welcome Pope Francis?

In about three weeks, we shall host a special visitor, the Jesuit Pope Francis.

Blanshe Musinguzi
Blanshe Musinguzi

We have been craving for his visit to grace the 50th anniversary celebrations of canonisation of Uganda martyrs.

We sent invitations after invitation. It was in October 2014 when President Museveni paid Pope Francis a courtesy call in Vatican that he expressed willingness to come to Uganda, later confirming the visit.

It is a political season as campaigns having started on Monday.

Politics is now the main talk on streets, radios and televisions.

Last week, we argued on who of the three leading presidential candidates pulled largest crowds during nominations not substance of their speeches.

This week we are still talking about crowds!  But why not talking about papal visit; for instance, are we ready?

Yes! At Namugongo, structures are being erected. But it is still uncertain if ongoing constructions at the Catholic shrine will be completed in time or if the construction of the martyrs’ museum at the protestant shrine will be ready by end of this month.

Roads connecting areas that the pontiff will visit are being repaired.

But we are far from getting done! We need to get ready spiritually by espousing the Jesuit Pope’s life changing principles.

As we elect leaders, a lot of aspirants have proved to be too greedy for power.

During the recently concluded National Resistance Movement primaries, aspirants attempted terrifying means to win elections yet Francis stepped down for Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) to replace Pope John Paul II in 2005.

Pope Francis holds the monstrance during the worldwide hour of Eucharistic adoration in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 2, 2013. Pope Francis led Roman Catholics on Sunday in the first worldwide "Holy Hour," in which participants prayed at the same time around the globe for those suffering from war, slave labor, human trafficking and the economic crisis.  REUTERS/ Giampiero Sposito  (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION) - RTX109BZ
Pope Francis holds the monstrance during the worldwide hour of Eucharistic adoration in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican June 2, 2013. Pope Francis led Roman Catholics on Sunday in the first worldwide “Holy Hour,” in which participants prayed at the same time around the globe for those suffering from war, slave labor, human trafficking and the economic crisis. REUTERS/ Giampiero Sposito (VATICAN – Tags: RELIGION) – RTX109BZ

During the elections, the Jesuit Pope played a crucial role; in the second round of the three ballots, Bergoglio received 40 votes out of 117.

This was unprecedented number of votes for the Latin America cardinal, making him the run up to Benedict.

He was overwhelmed by the support but to convince his peers to pass his 40 votes to Benedict, he profoundly told them that he was still “a student of Christian subjects.”

He could have prolonged and complicated the voting process. Why are we turning campaigns for leadership roles into a do or die game?

 

In leadership, it is apparent to make mistakes and very possible to be aware of them but difficult repent. During conversations with the Pope between 2007 to 2009 that resulted into publication of “Pope Francis (Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio:

The Authorised Biography, 2010,” Sergio Rubin and Francesca Ambrogetti , the authors asked him to examine his ministry before God.
He emphatically responded saying; “I don’t want to mislead anyone one, the truth is that I am a sinner… as soon as I was ordained as a priest, I was designated as a master of novices, and two and a half years later of the province. And I had to learn from errors along the way. To tell the truth, I have made hundreds of errors. Errors and sins. It would be wrong for me to say that these days, I ask for forgiveness for the sins and offences I might have committed. Today I ask for forgiveness for the sins and offences and that I indeed commit.”

This is incredible! I decided to overlook what is inscribed on the first and the last page of the book. When I open it, I go directly to his confession. Why can’t our leaders publicly confess and repent their misdeeds instead of blaming each other for what goes wrong?

During the United States tour, Pope Francis chose to ride in an inexpensive tiny Fiat. He was welcomed at  Francis at St Andrews Air Force Base in Washington by Obama who was chauffeured in “The Beast,” his gigantic bomb proof General Motors Cadillac.

We are yet to know the type of car that Pope Francis will ride in during the Uganda visit.

But it will be a cheap car. I challenge clergymen men and politicians who are going to be travelling with him to at least use low-priced cars.

We welcome a soft spoken, profound, affable, sincere, down-to-earth and humble character.

When Pope Francis was made a cardinal in 2001, he did not want to buy a new wardrobe but preferred to tailor the clothes of his successor.

He also refused to shift to the Cardinal’s residence and office and continued travelling by public means-buses.

When he learnt that some of his faithful darlings wanted to travel to Rome to witness the ceremony when he would be made a cardinal, he pleaded with to give trip money to the poor instead.

These traits descended on Francis when he was appointed pontiff. In Vatican he is living in a guest house rather than the opulent papal apartments.

Personally, I hope to be fully ready to for the Papal visit.

I could not waste my time to cheer political demagogues after their nominations earlier this week but I will be on Kampala streets to welcome Pope Francis.

How about you? Are you ready?

Mr. Musinguzi is an undergraduate Journalism and Communication student at Makerere University a part- time Catholic

[email protected]

 

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