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Pope In Uganda: Address at Meeting with Priests, Religious and Seminarians


Here is a transcription and translation of the unscripted address Pope Francis gave this evening to priests and religious in Uganda. Transcription and translation by ZENIT International News Service.

There are three things I want to tell you. First of all, in the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds his people: “Don’t forget.” And he repeats it in this book various times. To not forget. To not forget everything that God did for his people.

The first thing that I want to say to you is that you ask for the grace of memory, [of remembering.] As I said to the young people: In the blood of Ugandan Catholics is mixed the blood of martyrs. Do not forget the memory of this seed. So that in this way you continue to grow.

The main enemy of memory is forgetting. But this isn’t the most dangerous enemy. The most dangerous enemy of memory is becoming accustomed to inheriting the goods of those who’ve gone before. The Church in Uganda can never become accustomed to the distant memory of its martyrs. Martyr means witness. The Church in Uganda, to be faithful to this memory, must continue to be a witness. It can’t live “piggy-backing.” The glories of the past were the beginning but you have to make the glory of the future. And this is the task that the Church gives to you. Be witnesses, as the martyrs who gave their lives for the Gospel were witnesses.

To be witnesses — the second word that I want to say to you — fidelity is necessary. Fidelity to memory. Fidelity to one’s vocation. Fidelity to apostolic zeal. Fidelity means to follow the way of holiness. Fidelity means to do what the witnesses of the past did: to be missionaries.

Perhaps here in Uganda there are dioceses that have many priests and dioceses that have few. Fidelity means offering oneself to the bishop to go to another diocese that needs missionaries. And this isn’t easy. Fidelity means persevering in the vocation. And here, I want to give thanks in a special way for the example of fidelity that the sisters from the House of Mercy gave me. Fidelity to the poor, to the ill, to the neediest. Because Christ is there.

Uganda was watered with the blood of martyrs, of witnesses. Today it is necessary to continue watering it and for this, new challenges, new testimonies, new missions.

If not, you’re going to lose the great richness that you have. And the “pearl of Africa” will end up being on display in a museum. Because the devil attacks like that — little by little. And I’m speaking not only for the priests, but also to the religious.

For the priests, I did want to speak particularly about this issue of being missionaries: That the dioceses with a lot of priests offer themselves to those with fewer clergy.

Thus, Uganda will continue to be missionary.

Memory which means fidelity and fidelity that is only possible with prayer. If a man or woman religious, a priest, abandons prayer or prays only a little, because he says he has a lot of work, he has already begun to lose memory. And he has already begun to lose fidelity.

Prayer, which also means humiliation. The humiliation of going regularly to your confessor and to say your own sins. You can’t limp with both feet. Men religious, women religious and priests cannot live a double life. If you are a sinner, ask for forgiveness. But don’t keep hidden what God doesn’t want. Don’t keep a lack of fidelity hidden away. Don’t shut memory up in a closet. Memory. New challenges, fidelity to memory. And prayer. Prayer always begins with recognizing oneself as a sinner.

With these three columns, the pearl of Africa will continue to be a pearl and not just the word missionary.

May the martyrs who gave strength to this Church help us to go forward in memory, in fidelity and in prayer.

And please, I ask you to not forget to pray for me.

Now, I invite you to pray all together an Ave Maria to the Virgin.

Pope In Uganda: Address at Meeting with Youth Unscripted


Here is a transcription and translation of the unscripted address Pope Francis gave to young people this afternoon in Uganda. Transcription and translation by ZENIT International News Service.

I listened with much sorrow in my heart to the testimonies of Winnie and Emmanuel. But as I was listening, I asked myself a question: Can a negative experience serve for something in life? Yes.

Both Winnie and Emmanuel have suffered negative experiences. Winnie thought she had no future. That the life before her was against a wall. But Jesus showed her little by little that he can make a great miracle in life. That he can transform a wall into a horizon. A horizon that opens to the future. In the face of a negative experience — as many of us who are here have had negative experiences — there is always the possibility of opening a horizon. Of opening it with the door of Jesus. Today, Winnie has transformed her depression, her bitterness into hope.

And this isn’t magic. This is the work of Jesus. Because Jesus is Lord. Jesus can do everything. And Jesus suffered the most negative experience in history. He was insulted, he was rejected, he was killed. And Jesus, by the power of God, rose again. He can do the same thing in each one of us with each negative experience. Because Jesus is Lord.

I can imagine — and all of us together, let us imagine — the suffering of Emmanuel. When he saw that his companions were tortured. When he saw that his companions were assassinated. Emmanuel was courageous. He took heart. He knew that if they found him, the day he escaped, they would kill him. He took a risk. He trusted in Jesus. And he escaped. And today we have him here, after 14 years, with a degree in administration sciences.

All is possible. Our life is like a seed; to live, we must die. And sometimes, it is to die physically, like Emmanuel’s companions. To die as Charles Lwanga and the martyrs of Uganda died. But through this death, there is life. A life for everyone. If I transform the negative into positive, I am triumphant. But this can only be done with the grace of Jesus.

Are you certain of this? I didn’t hear! Are you certain? Are you ready to transform all the negative things of life into positive things? Are you ready to transform hate into love? Are you ready to transform, to want to transform, war into peace?

You must be aware that you are a people of martyrs. Through your veins flows the blood of martyrs. And because of this, you have the faith and the life that you have now. And this life is so beautiful that it is called the pearl of Africa.

It seems that the microphone doesn’t work well. Sometimes we ourselves don’t work well. Yes or no? And when we don’t work well, to whom do we have to ask help? I don’t hear you. Louder!

We have to ask Jesus. Jesus can change your life. Jesus can break down all of the walls that you have before you. Jesus can make of your life a service for others.

Some of you might ask me: For this, is there a magic wand? If you want Jesus to change your life, ask him. And this is called prayer.  Did you understand? To pray. I ask you: Do you pray? Are you sure? Pray to Jesus because he is the savior. Never stop praying. Prayer is the strongest weapon that a youth has.

Jesus loves us. I ask you: Does Jesus love some people and not others? Does Jesus love everyone? Does Jesus want to help everyone? Then open the doors of your heart and allow him to come in.

Allow Jesus to enter into my life. And when Jesus comes into your life, he helps you to fight. To fight agains all of the problems that Winnie spoke of. Fight against depression, fight against AIDS, to ask help to rise above these situations. But always to fight. Fight with my desire, and fight with my prayer. Are you ready to fight? Are you ready to want the best for yourselves? Are you ready to pray, to ask Jesus to help you in the fight?

And a third thing that I want to tell you: All of us are in the Church, we belong to the Church, right? And the Church has a Mother. What’s her name? I can’t hear! Pray to our Mother. When a child falls, gets hurt, he starts to cry and goes to look for his mom. 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? Do you pray to the Virgin, our Mother? Here I ask, do you pray to Jesus and to the Virgin, our Mother?

So three things: rise above difficulties, transform the negative into positive, and third, prayer. Prayer to Jesus who can do everything. That Jesus enters into our hearts. And changes our lives. Jesus, who came to save me and gave his life for me. Pray to Jesus because he is the only Lord. And since in the Church, we are not orphans, and we have a mother, to pray to our Mother. And what is the name of our Mother? Louder!

I thank you very much for having listened to me. I thank you a lot because you want to change the negative into positive. That you want to fight against evil with Jesus at your side, and above all I thank you because you have the desire to never abandon prayer. And now I invite you to pray together to our Mother, that she protects us. Agreed? Everyone together.

Ave Maria


A last request: Pray for me. Pray for me. I need it. Don’t forget. Good-bye.

Pope In Uganda: Address at Nalukolongo House of Charity

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On Saturday, November 28, 2015, Pope Francis visited the Nalukolongo House of Charity for the elderly and disabled in Kampala. Below, you will find the prepared remarks of his address to those caregivers:

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Visit to the House of Charity
Kampala, Nalukolongo
Saturday 28 November 2015

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your warm welcome.  I wanted very much to visit this House of Charity, which Cardinal Nsubuga founded here in Nalukolongo.  This is a place which has always been associated with the Church’s outreach to the poor, the handicapped, the sick.  Here, in early times, slave children were ransomed and women received religious instruction.  I greet the Good Samaritan Sisters who carry on this fine tradition, and I thank them for their years of quiet and joyful service in this apostolate.  

I also greet the representatives of the many other apostolic groups who serve the needs of our brothers and sisters in Uganda.  Above all, I greet the residents of this home and others like it, and all who benefit from these works of Christian charity.  For this is a home.  Here you can find love and care; here you can feel the presence of Jesus, our brother, who loves each of us with God’s own love.

Today, from this Home, I appeal to all parishes and communities in Uganda – and the rest of Africa – not to forget the poor.  The Gospel commands us to go out to the peripheries of society, and to find Christ in the suffering and those in need.  The Lord tells us, in no uncertain terms, that is what he will judge us on!  How sad it is when our societies allow the elderly to be rejected or neglected!  How wrong it is when the young are exploited by the modern-day slavery of human trafficking!  If we look closely at the world around us, it seems that, in many places, selfishness and indifference are spreading.  How many of our brothers and sisters are victims of today’s throwaway culture, which breeds contempt above all towards the unborn, the young and the elderly!

As Christians, we cannot simply stand by.  Something must change!  Our families need to become ever more evident signs of God’s patient and merciful love, not only for our children and elders, but for all those in need.  Our parishes must not close their doors, or their ears, to the cry of the poor.  This is the royal road of Christian discipleship.  In this way we bear witness to the Lord who came not to be served, but to serve.  In this way we show that people count more than things, that who we are is more important than what we possess.  For in those whom we serve, Christ daily reveals himself and prepares the welcome which we hope one day to receive in his eternal kingdom.

Dear friends, by simple gestures, by simple prayerful actions which honour Christ in the least of his brothers and sisters, we can bring the power of his love into our world, and truly change it.  I thank you once more for your generosity and love.  I will remember you in my prayers and I ask you, please, to pray for me.  I commend all of you to the loving protection of Mary, our Mother, and I give you my blessing.  

Omukama Abakuume!(God protect you!)

Pope In Uganda: Homily During Mass at Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine


On Saturday, November 28, 2015, Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass in Namugongo, the site of the Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine. Below, you will find the full text of the Holy Father’s prepared homily:

Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Mass at the Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine, Namugongo
Saturday November 28, 2015

“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

From the age of the Apostles to our own day, a great cloud of witnesses has been raised up to proclaim Jesus and show forth the power of the Holy Spirit.  Today, we recall with gratitude the sacrifice of the Uganda martyrs, whose witness of love for Christ and his Church has truly gone “to the end of the earth”.  We remember also the Anglican martyrs whose deaths for Christ testify to the ecumenism of blood.  All these witnesses nurtured the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives and freely gave testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ, even at the cost of their lives, many at such a young age.

We too have received the gift of the Spirit, to make us sons and daughters of God, but also so that we may bear witness to Jesus and make him everywhere known and loved.  We received the Spirit when we were reborn in Baptism, and we were strengthened by his gifts at our Confirmation.  Every day we are called to deepen the Holy Spirit’s presence in our life, to “fan into flame” the gift of his divine love so that we may be a source of wisdom and strength to others.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is a gift which is meant to be shared.  It unites us to one another as believers and living members of Christ’s mystical Body.  We do not receive the gift of the Spirit for ourselves alone, but to build up one another in faith, hope and love.  I think of Saints Joseph Mkasa and Charles Lwanga, who after being catechized by others, wanted to pass on the gift they had received.  They did this in dangerous times.  Not only were their lives threatened but so too were the lives of the younger boys under their care.  Because they had tended to their faith and deepened their love of God, they were fearless in bringing Christ to others, even at the cost of their lives. Their faith became witness; today, venerated as martyrs, their example continues to inspire people throughout the world.  They continue to proclaim Jesus Christ and the power of his Cross.

If, like the martyrs, we daily fan into flame the gift of the Spirit who dwells in our hearts, then we will surely become the missionary disciples which Christ calls us to be.  To our families and friends certainly, but also to those whom we do not know, especially those who might be unfriendly, even hostile, to us.  This openness to others begins first in the family, in our homes where charity and forgiveness are learned, and the mercy and love of God made known in our parents’ love.  It finds expression too in our care for the elderly and the poor, the widowed and the orphaned.

Just as the mother and seven sons from the Second Book of Maccabees encouraged one another in their moment of great trial (7:1-2. 9-14), so too, as members of God’s family, we are to assist one another, to protect one another, and to lead one another to the fullness of life.  Here I think with gratitude of all those – bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and catechists – who in so many ways help to support Christian families.  May the Church in this country continue, especially through its parish communities, to assist young couples to prepare for marriage, to encourage couples to live the marital bond in love and fidelity, and to assist parents in their duty as the first teachers of the faith for their children.

Like the Apostles and the Uganda martyrs before us, we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit to become missionary disciples called to go forth and bring the Gospel to all.  At times this may take us to the end of the earth, as missionaries to faraway lands. This is essential to the spread of God’s Kingdom, and I ask always for your generous response to this need.  But we do not need to travel to be missionary disciples.  In fact, we need only to open our eyes and see the needs in our homes and our local communities to realize how many opportunities await us.

Here too the Uganda martyrs show us the way.  Their faith sought the good of all people, including the very King who condemned them for their Christian beliefs. Their response was to meet hatred with love, and thus to radiate the splendour of the Gospel.  They did not simply tell the King what the Gospel does not allow, but showed through their lives what saying “yes” to Jesus really means.  It means mercy and purity of heart, being meek and poor in spirit, and thirsting for righteousness in the hope of an eternal reward.

The witness of the martyrs shows to all who have heard their story, then and now, that the worldly pleasures and earthly power do not bring lasting joy or peace.  Rather, fidelity to God, honesty and integrity of life, and genuine concern for the good of others bring us that peace which the world cannot give.  This does not diminish our concern for this world, as if we only look to the life to come.  Instead, it gives purpose to our lives in this world, and helps us to reach out to those in need, to cooperate with others for the common good, and to build a more just society which promotes human dignity, defends God’s gift of life and protects the wonders of nature, his creation and our common home.

Dear brothers and sisters, this is the legacy which you have received from the Uganda martyrs – lives marked by the power of the Holy Spirit, lives which witness even now to the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This legacy is not served by an occasional remembrance, or by being enshrined in a museum as a precious jewel. Rather, we honour them, and all the saints, when we carry on their witness to Christ, in our homes and neighbourhoods, in our workplaces and civil society, whether we never leave our homes or we go to the farthest corner of the world.

May the Uganda martyrs, together with Mary, Mother of the Church, intercede for us, and may the Holy Spirit kindle within us the fire of his divine love!

Omukama Abawe Omukisa!   (God bless you!)

Pope In Kenya: Address at Meeting with Young People


On Friday, November 27, 2015, Pope Francis met with a crowd of young people in Nairobi, Kenya at Kasarani Stadium. Below you will find the transcript of Pope Francis’ unscripted remarks:

Pope Francis’ Unscripted Address to Kenyan Youth
Courtesy of Zenit International News Service
Kenya, November 27, 2015

Thank you so much for this Rosary that you said for me. I thank you for your enthusiastic presence. Thank you, Emmanuel and Linette, for your testimonies. There is a question at the base of all the questions that the two young people have asked me: Why do divisions, fights, war, death, fanaticism, destruction happen among young people? Why is there this desire for self-destruction?

In the first page of the Bible, in all those wonderful things that God made, a brother kills another brother, and the spirit of evil leads us to destruction. And the spirit of evil leads us to disunion, to tribalism, to corruption, to dependence on drugs. It leads us to destruction because of fanaticism. Emmanuel asked: What can be done so that ideological fanaticism does not rob us of a brother, a friend?

There is a word that might seem annoying, but I don’t want to avoid it, because you said it before me. You used it when you brought me the Rosaries that you prayed for me. The Bishop also used it when he introduced you and said that you prepared yourselves for this visit with prayer. The first thing I’ll answer is that a man loses the best of his being human when he forgets to pray, because he feels omnipotent, because he doesn’t feel the need to ask for help in face of so many tragedies.

Life is full of difficulties, but there are two ways of looking at difficulties: either a person looks at them as something that blocks him, destroys him, stops him, or he looks at them as an opportunity. It is for you to choose. For me, is a difficulty a way of destruction or it is an opportunity to surmount my whole situation, that of my family, of my communities, of my country? Boys and girls, we don’t live in Heaven, we live on earth.

And the earth is full of difficulties. The earth is full not only of difficulties but of invitations to deviate to evil. However, there is something that all of you young people have that lasts a time: the capacity to choose. What way do I want to choose? Which of these two things do I want to choose? To allow myself to be defeated by the difficulty or to consider the difficulty an opportunity, with which I can win?

Some of the difficulties you named are real challenges; therefore, first a question: do you want to surmount these challenges or allow yourselves to be defeated by the challenges? Are you like sportsmen who, when they come to play here in the Stadium, want to win or are you like those who have already sold the victory to others or have put the victory in their pocket? It is for you to choose.

A challenge, of which Linette spoke, is that of tribalism. Tribalism destroys a nation. Tribalism means to hide our hands behind us and to have a stone in each hand to throw it against the other. Tribalism is overcome only by listening with the heart and with the hand – with the ears. What is your culture? Why are you like this? Why does your tribe have this habit, this custom? Does your tribe feel superior or inferior?  — with the heart. Once I have heard the answer with the ears then I open my heart and stretch out my hand to continue the dialogue. If you don’t dialogue and don’t listen to one another, then there will always be tribalism as a woodworm that corrupts the society.

A Day of Prayer and Reconciliation has been declared. I would now like to invite all of you young people — Linette and Emmanuel come here –, that we all hold hands and stand up as a sign against tribalism. We are all a nation. Our heart should be like this. Tribalism is not only to raise one’s hand today. This is the desire, but it is a decision. But tribalism is a work of every day. To defeat tribalism is an endeavor of every day. An endeavor of the ear, an endeavor of the heart, of opening one’s heart to the other, and it is an endeavor of the hand: to shake hands with one another. And now shake hands among yourselves!

Another question, which Linette posed, regards corruption. I wonder: can corruption be justified? Because of the simple fact that all are sinning, that all act on the basis of corruption. How can we be Christians and combat the evil of corruption? I remember that in my homeland a youth of about 20 or 22 years old wanted to dedicate himself to politics. He studied, was enthusiastic, went from one side to another, and he found work in a Ministry. One day he had to decide what thing he should buy. And then he asked for three estimates. He examined them and chose the most economic, the most appropriate. Then he went to the boss’ office so that he would sign it. “Why did you choose this?” “Because the most appropriate one must be chosen for the country’s finances.” “No! You must choose those that give you the most to put in your pocket!” The youth answered his boss: “I came to engage in politics to help the homeland, to make it greater.” His boss answered him: “I engage in politics to steal.” This is just one example.

And this happens not only in politics, in all institutions — including in the Vatican — there are cases of corruption everywhere. Corruption is something that gets inside us. It’s like sugar, we like it, it’s easy and then we end badly, we come to an awful end. Because of so much sugar, we end up with diabetes or our country ends up being sick with diabetes. Every time we accept money that is extorted, that we accept a small envelope and put it in our pocket, we destroy our heart, our personality, our homeland. Please, don’t have a liking for this sugar, which is called corruption. “Father, but I see that everyone is corrupt. I see so many persons who sell themselves for a bit of money without being concerned about others’ lives.”  As in all things, one must begin. If you don’t want corruption in your heart, in your life, in your homeland, you must begin! If you don’t begin, neither will your neighbor. Corruption, moreover, robs us of joy; it robs us of peace. A corrupt person doesn’t live in peace.

Once – and this is a historical fact — a man died in my city who we all knew was a very corrupt person. Then, a few days later, I asked how the funeral was, and a lady, who had a great sense of humor, answered me: “Father, they were unable to close the coffin because he wanted to take away all the money he had stolen.” What you steal with corruption will remain here and someone else will use it, but also – and we must really register this in our heart — men and women will also remain wounded by your example of corruption. The lack of good will remains that you could have done and didn’t do. It will remain in sick, starving children, because the money that was for them  — because of your corruption — you kept for yourself. Boys and girls, corruption is not a way of life but a way of death.

And there was also a question on how to use the media to spread Christ’s message of hope and to promote correct initiatives so that a difference is seen. The first means of communication is a word, a gesture, a smile. The first gesture of communication is closeness; it is to seek friendship. If you speak well among yourselves, if you smile, if you approach one another as brothers, if you are close to each other, even if you belong to different tribes, close also to those that are in need, the abandoned, the elderly that no one visits, if you are close to them, these gestures of communication are more infectious than any television network.

Well, all these questions … I hope I’ve said something that can help. But ask Jesus, pray to the Lord to give you the strength to destroy tribalism, to all be brothers, that He give you, encourage you, not to let yourselves be corrupted. That He give you the delight of being able to communicate among yourselves as brothers, with a smile, with a good word, with a gesture of help and closeness.

Manuel also asked incisive questions. The first thing he said worries me: What can we do to impede the recruitment of persons who are dear to us? What can we do to make them come back? To answer this we must know why a youth full of illusions allows himself to be recruited, or goes to seek to be recruited, distances himself from his family, from his friends, from his tribe, from his homeland. He distances himself from life because he learns to kill. And this is a question that you must address to all the Authorities. If a youth, a boy or a girl, has no work, cannot study, what can he/she do? He can turn to delinquency or fall into a form of dependence, or commit suicide. The statistics on suicide are not published in Europe. Or he can enroll in some activity that demonstrates a goal in life but is, perhaps, seduced or deceived. The first thing we must do to avoid a youth being recruited, or that he go to be recruited, is education and work. If a youth doesn’t have work, what future is there for him?  From there comes the idea to let himself be recruited. If a youth doesn’t have the possibility of receiving an education, even an emergency education, small tasks, what can he do? And the danger is there. It is a social danger that goes beyond us, beyond countries, because it depends on an international system that’s unjust, which doesn’t have the person at the center of the economy but the god of money. What can I do to help him or to make him come back?

In the first place, pray, but intensely. God is stronger than any recruitment. And then speak to the youth with affection, with sympathy, with love and with patience. Invite him to see a soccer match, to go for a walk. Invite him to take part in your group, don’t leave him alone. This is what now comes to my mind. There is also your second question: there are behaviours that damage; behaviours in which fleeting happiness is sought that ends up damaging you. Well then, this is a question of a Professor of Theology. How can we understand that God is our Father? How can we see the hand of God in the tragedies of life? How can we find the peace of God? Men and women of the whole world ask this question and they don’t find a reason. But there are questions that no matter how much effort one makes to think about them, one is unable to find an explanation. How can I see God’s hand in a tragedy of life? There is only one answer – no, it isn’t an answer; there is only one way: to look at the Son of God. God sent him to save all of us. God himself made himself tragedy. God himself let himself be destroyed on the cross and when the moment comes that you don’t understand, when you are desperate and the world falls on top of you, look at the cross. There is God’s failure, God’s destruction, but there also is a challenge to our faith: hope, because history didn’t end in that failure, but there was the Resurrection that renewed all.

I will share a confidence with you. It’s 12 o’clock. Are you hungry?

I always keep two things in my pocket: a Rosary, to pray and something that seems strange … what is it? It is the story of God’s failure. It’s a small Via Crucis. Just as Jesus suffered from the moment he was condemned to death to the moment he was buried. With these two things, I do my best. Thanks to these two things I don’t lose hope.

One last question of “theologian” Manuel. What words do you have for young people who have not experienced love in their own families? Is it possible to come out of this experience? There are abandoned children everywhere, either because they were abandoned at birth or because life, the family, the parents have abandoned them and they don’t feel the affection of the family.

This is why the family is so important; defend the family, defend it always. Not only are there abandoned children everywhere but also abandoned elderly who are alone, with no one visiting them; no one who loves them. How can one come out of this negative experience of estrangement and lack of love? There is only one remedy to come out of these experiences: to do what oneself has not received. If you haven’t received understanding, be understanding with others, if you haven’t received love, love others; if you have felt the pain of loneliness, approach those that are alone; flesh is healed with flesh and God became flesh to heal us. Therefore, we must do the same with others.

I think that before the referee whistles the end it’s time to finish. My heartfelt thanks to you for coming, and for allowing me to speak in my native tongue. I thank you for having prayed so many Rosaries for me. And please, I ask you to pray for me, because I also am in need of it, and much so. I count on your prayers and before going, I ask you all to stand up and to pray together to our Father in Heaven who has only one defect: He cannot stop being Father.

Our Father…

Pope In Uganda: Address to Catechists and Teachers at Munyonyo

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On Friday evening, November 27, 2015, Pope Francis visited the Munyonyo Martyrs’ Shrine for a meeting with Catechists and Teachers. Below you will find the full text of the Holy Father’s prepared remarks:

Greeting to Catechists
Kampala, Munyonyo
Friday, 27 November 2015

Dear Catechists and Teachers, Dear Friends,

I greet you with affection in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Teacher.

“Teacher!”  What a beautiful name this is!  Jesus is our first and greatest teacher.  Saint Paul tells us that Jesus gave his Church not only apostles and pastors, but also teachers, to build up the whole body in faith and love.  Together with the bishops, priests and deacons who are ordained to preach the Gospel and care for the Lord’s flock, you, as catechists, play an outstanding part in bringing the Good News to every village and homestead in your country.

I wish before all else, to thank you for the sacrifices which you and your families make, and for the zeal and devotion with which you carry out your important task.  You teach what Jesus taught, you instruct adults and help parents to raise their children in the faith, and you bring the joy and hope of eternal life to all.  Thank you for your dedication, your example, your closeness to God’s people in their daily lives, and all the many ways you plant and nurture the seeds of faith throughout this vast land.  Thank you especially for teaching our children and young people how to pray.

I know that your work, although rewarding, is not easy.  So I encourage you to persevere, and I ask your bishops and priests to support you with a doctrinal, spiritual and pastoral formation capable of making you ever more effective in your outreach.  Even when the task seems too much, the resources too few, the obstacles too great, it should never be forgotten that yours is a holy work.  The Holy Spirit is present wherever the name of Christ is proclaimed.  He is in our midst whenever we lift up our hearts and minds to God in prayer.  He will give you the light and strength you need!  The message you bring will take root all the more firmly in people’s hearts if you are not only a teacher but also a witness.  Your example should speak to everyone of the beauty of prayer, the power of mercy and forgiveness, the joy of sharing in the Eucharist with all our brothers and sisters.

The Christian community in Uganda grew strong through the witness of the martyrs.  They testified to the truth which sets men free; they were willing to shed their blood to be faithful to what they knew was good and beautiful and true.  We stand here today in Munyonyo at the place where King Mwanga determined to wipe out the followers of Christ.  He failed in this, just as King Herod failed to kill Jesus.  The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness could not overcome it (cf. Jn 1:5).  After seeing the fearless testimony of Saint Andrew Kaggwa and his companions, Christians in Uganda became even more convinced of Christ’s promises.  

May Saint Andrew, your patron, and all the Ugandan catechist martyrs, obtain for you the grace to be wise teachers, men and women whose every word is filled with grace, convincing witnesses to the splendour of God’s truth and the joy of the Gospel!  Go forth without fear to every town and village in this country, to spread the good seed of God’s word, and trust in his promise that you will come back rejoicing, with sheaves full from the harvest.  

Omukama Abawe Omukisa! (God bless you!)

The Uganda that Greets Pope Francis


During his trip to Africa, Pope Francis will land in Entebbe, Uganda on Friday, November 27. It will be the second country he visits during the voyage. As is custom, he will pay a courtesy visit to the President of the Republic and meet with civic authorities and the diplomatic corps. That same evening he will go to Munyonyo to greet catechists and teachers.

This portion of the visit bring the Holy Father in contact with a Central-Eastern African state known for its lakes and rivers: Lake Victoria and the White Nile. It is  a land crossed in the south by the Equator. It is a land of nearly 35 million inhabitants.  The capital, Kampala, owes its name to the imagination of the English who, when they arrived in this territory called it “Hills of Impala.” The Impala, of course, being  a species of antelopes.

Over the past forty years the country has experienced a constant state of political instability which we can trace to 1978, the year in which Idi Amin  – a politician and military dictator of Uganda as well as President of the country from 1971 to 1979- decided to invade Tanzania under the guise of a territorial dispute.

The plan soon proved unsuccessful and led to a huge defeat that allowed for Tanzanian invasion of Uganda, complete with looting. This represented the total defeat of the regime. Amin fled first to Libya and then Saudi Arabia. He was replaced in April 1979 by a university professor, Yusuf Lule.

After the rigged elections of 1980, the current President Yoweri Museveni took command of the National Resistance Army guarding the southern areas of the country. His command inaugurated years of guerrilla warfare, torture and bad government.

In the late 80’s, civil war tore the country apart with over 300,000 deaths. It was a struggle between the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) supported by neighboring Tanzanians, and Musveni’s NRA who took control of the country and Alice Auma’s forces, leading a para-religious army.

Victory went to the NRA. However, Joseph Kony organized an army (initially Liberation Army of the Lord, then Salvation Army Christian Kingdom, then the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA) in order to defend the rights of Acholi minorities who had exterminated during the dictatorship Idi Amin Dada, and established a theocratic state.

Only ten years ago, however, the International Criminal Court accused the leader of the LRA for crimes against humanity. He perpetrated rape, assaults, murder, child abuse, use of child soldiers, and mutilation.

The situation has stabilized in recent years. Uganda is currently a semi-presidential Republic and the president is Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement.

The Pope will find a country where about 85% of the population are Christians. Among them the two largest groups are Catholics and Anglicans who make up 45 and 35 percent of the population respectively. Only 12 percent of Ugandans are Sunni Muslims while an even smaller 2 percent of the population professes traditional African religions. Other non-Christian faiths account for less than one percent of the population.

The Holy Father will visit two shrines dedicated to the martyrs of Uganda: one a Catholic Shrine, the other Anglican. In the Catholic shrine he will celebrate a Mass for the Ugandan martyrs. It will be followed by a meeting with young people at Kololo Air Strip in Kampala, a visit to the House of Charity of Nalukolongo, meetings with the bishops of Uganda, and with the clergy and religious of the region.

That meeting will the pope’s last appointment before leaving for Bangui in the Central African Republic, the last leg of his African journey.

Pope In Kenya: Address at St. Joseph the Worker Parish at Kangemi Slum

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On Friday, November 27, 2015, Pope Francis visited the poor neighborhood of Kangemi in Nairobi. Below you will find the full text of his prepared address:

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Visit to Kangemi
Friday, 27 November 2015

Thank you for welcoming me to your neighbourhood.  I thank Archbishop Kivuva and Father Pascal for their kind words.  I feel very much at home sharing these moments with brothers and sisters who, and I am not ashamed to say this, have a special place in my life and my decisions.  I am here because I want you to know that your joys and hopes, your troubles and your sorrows, are not indifferent to me.  I realize the difficulties which you experience daily!  How can I not denounce the injustices which you suffer?

First of all, though, I would like to speak about something which the language of exclusion often disregards or seems to ignore.  It is the wisdom found in poor neighbourhoods.  A wisdom which is born of the “stubborn resistance” of that which is authentic” (cf. Laudato Si’, 112), from Gospel values which an opulent society, anaesthetized by unbridled consumption, would seem to have forgotten.  You are able “to weave bonds of belonging and togetherness which convert overcrowding into an experience of community in which the walls of the ego are torn down and the barriers of selfishness overcome” (ibid., 149).

The culture of poor neighbourhoods, steeped in this particular wisdom, “has very positive traits, which can offer something to these times in which we live; it is expressed in values such as solidarity, giving one’s life for others, preferring birth to death, providing Christian burial to one’s dead; finding a place for the sick in one’s home, sharing bread with the hungry (for ‘there is always room for one more seat at the table’), showing patience and strength when faced with great adversity, and so on” (Equipo de Sacerdotes para las Villas de Emergencia, Argentina, Reflexiones sobre urbanización y la cultura villera, 2010).  Values grounded in the fact each human being is more important than the god of money.  Thank you for reminding us that another type of culture is possible.

I want in first place to uphold these values which you practice, values which are not quoted in the stock exchange, are not subject to speculation, and have no market price.  I congratulate you, I accompany you and I want you to know that the Lord never forgets you.  The path of Jesus began on the peripheries, it goes from the poor and with the poor, towards others.

To see these signs of good living that increase daily in your midst in no way entails a disregard for the dreadful injustice of urban exclusion.  These are wounds inflicted by minorities who cling to power and wealth, who selfishly squander while a growing majority is forced to flee to abandoned, filthy and run-down peripheries.

This becomes even worse when we see the unjust distribution of land (if not in this neighbourhood, certainly in others) which leads in many cases to entire families having to pay excessive and unfair rents for utterly unfit housing.  I am also aware of the serious problem posed by faceless “private developers” who hoard areas of land and even attempt to appropriate the playgrounds of your children’s schools.  This is what happens when we forget that “God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favouring anyone” (Centesimus Annus, 31).     

One very serious problem in this regard is the lack of access to infrastructures and basic services.  By this I mean toilets, sewers, drains, refuse collection, electricity, roads, as well as schools, hospitals, recreational and sport centres, studios and workshops for artists and craftsmen.  I refer in particular to access to drinking water.  “Access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights.  Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity” (Laudato Si’, 30). To deny a family water, under any bureaucratic pretext whatsoever, is a great injustice, especially when one profits from this need.

This situation of indifference and hostility experienced by poor  neighbourhoods is aggravated when violence spreads and criminal organizations, serving economic or political interests, use children and young people as “canon fodder” for their ruthless business affairs.  I also appreciate the struggles of those women who fight heroically to protect their sons and daughters from these dangers.  I ask God that that the authorities may embark, together with you, upon the path of social inclusion, education, sport, community action, and the protection of families, for this is the only guarantee of a peace that is just, authentic and enduring.

These realities which I have just mentioned are not a random combination of unrelated problems.  They are a consequence of new forms of colonialism which would make African countries “parts of a machine, cogs on a gigantic wheel” (Ecclesia in Africa, 52).  Indeed, countries are frequently pressured to adopt policies typical of the culture of waste, like those aimed at lowering the birth rate, which seek “to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized” (Laudato Si’, 50).      

In this regard, I would propose a renewed attention to the idea of a respectful urban integration, as opposed to elimination, paternalism, indifference or mere containment.  We need integrated cities which belong to everyone.  We need to go beyond the mere proclamation of rights which are not respected in practice, to implementing concrete and systematic initiatives capable of improving the overall living situation, and planning new urban developments of good quality for housing future generations.  The social and environmental debt owed to the poor of cities can be paid by respecting their sacred right to the “three Ls”: Land, Lodging, Labour.  This is not a question of philanthropy; rather it is a duty incumbent upon all of us.

I wish to call all Christians, and their pastors in particular, to renew their missionary zeal, to take initiative in the face of so many situations of injustice, to be involved in their neighbours’ problems, to accompany them in their struggles, to protect the fruits of their communitarian labour and to celebrate together each victory, large or small.  I realize that you are already doing much, but I ask to remember this is not just another task; it may instead be the most important task of all, because “the Gospel is addressed in a special way to the poor” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Bishops of Brazil, 11 May 2007, 3).           

Dear neighbours, dear brothers and sisters, let us together pray, work and commit ourselves to ensuring that every family has dignified housing, access to drinking water, a toilet, reliable sources of energy for lighting, cooking and improving their homes; that every neighbourhood has streets, squares, schools, hospitals, areas for sport, recreation and art; that basic services are provided to each of you; that your appeals and your pleas for greater opportunity can be heard; that all can enjoy the peace and security which they rightfully deserve on the basis of their infinite human dignity.

Mungu awabariki!   God bless you!

And I ask you, please, do not forget to pray for me.

Pope In Kenya: Address at UN Office in Nairobi


On Thursday, November 26, 2015, Pope Francis address the United Nations Office at Nairobi. Below you will find the full text of his prepared remarks:

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Nairobi, Visit to U.N.O.N.
Thursday, November 26, 2015

I would like to thank Madame Sahle-Work Zewde, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi, for her kind invitation and words of welcome, as well as Mr Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, and Mr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat.  I take this occasion to greet the personnel and all those associated with the institutions who are here present.

On my way to this hall, I was asked to plant a tree in the park of the United Nations Centre.  I was happy to carry out this simple symbolic act, which is so meaningful in many cultures.

Planting a tree is first and foremost an invitation to continue the battle against phenomena like deforestation and desertification.  It reminds us of the importance of safeguarding and responsibly administering those “richly biodiverse lungs of our planet”, which include, on this continent, “the Congo basins”, a place essential “for the entire earth and for the future of humanity”.  It also points to the need to appreciate and encourage “the commitment of international agencies and civil society organizations which draw public attention to these issues and offer critical cooperation, employing legitimate means of pressure, to ensure that each government carries out its proper and inalienable responsibility to preserve its country’s environment and natural resources, without capitulating to spurious local or international interests” (Laudato Si’, 38).

Planting a tree is also an incentive to keep trusting, hoping, and above all working in practice to reverse all those situations of injustice and deterioration which we currently experience.

In a few days an important meeting on climate change will be held in Paris, where the international community as such will once again confront these issues.  It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good and lead to manipulating information in order to protect their own plans and projects.

In this international context, we are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or to destroy the environment.  Every step we take, whether large or small, individual or collective, in caring for creation opens a sure path for that “generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings” (ibid., 211).

“The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all”; “climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods; it represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day” (ibid., 23 and 25).  Our response to this challenge “needs to incorporate a social perspective which takes into account the fundamental rights of the poor and the underprivileged” (ibid., 93).  For “the misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion” (Address to the United Nations, 25 September 2015).

COP21 represents an important stage in the process of developing a new energy system which depends on a minimal use of fossil fuels, aims at energy efficiency and makes use of energy sources with little or no carbon content. We are faced with a great political and economic obligation to rethink and correct the dysfunctions and distortions of the current model of development.

The Paris Agreement can give a clear signal in this direction, provided that, as I stated before the UN General Assembly, we avoid “every temptation to fall into a declarationist nominalism which would assuage our consciences. We need to ensure that our institutions are truly effective” (ibid.). For this reason, I express my hope that COP21 will achieve a global and “transformational” agreement based on the principles of solidarity, justice, equality and participation; an agreement which targets three complex and interdependent goals: lessening the impact of climate change, fighting poverty and ensuring respect for human dignity.

For all the difficulties involved, there is a growing “conviction that our planet is a homeland and that humanity is one people living in a common home” (Laudato Si’, 164).  No country “can act independently of a common responsibility.  If we truly desire positive change, we have to humbly accept our interdependence” (Address to Popular Movements, 9 July 2015).  The problem arises whenever we think of interdependence as a synonym for domination, or the subjection of some to the interests of others, of the powerless to the powerful.

What is needed is sincere and open dialogue, with responsible cooperation on the part of all: political authorities, the scientific community, the business world and civil society. Positive examples are not lacking; they demonstrate that a genuine cooperation between politics, science and business can achieve significant results.

At the same time we believe that “human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good and making a new start” (Laudato Si’, 205). This conviction leads us to hope that, whereas the post-industrial period may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history, “humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities” (ibid., 165). If this is to happen, the economy and politics need to be placed at the service of peoples, with the result that “human beings, in harmony with nature, structure the entire system of production and distribution in such a way that the abilities and needs of each individual find suitable expression in social life”.  Far from an idealistic utopia, this is a realistic prospect which makes the human person and human dignity the point of departure and the goal of everything (cf. Address to Popular Movements, 9 July 2015).

This much-needed change of course cannot take place without a substantial commitment to education and training. Nothing will happen unless political and technical solutions are accompanied by a process of education which proposes new ways of living. A new culture. This calls for an educational process which fosters in boys and girls, women and men, young people and adults, the adoption of a culture of care – care for oneself, care for others, care for the environment – in place of a culture of waste, a “throw-away culture” where people use and discard themselves, others and the environment.  By promoting an “awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of the future to be shared with everyone”, we will favour the development of new convictions, attitudes and lifestyles.  “A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal” (Laudato Si’, 202).  We still have time.

Many are the faces, the stories and the evident effects on the lives of thousands of persons whom the culture of deterioration and waste has allowed to be sacrificed before the idols of profits and consumption.  We need to be alert to one sad sign of the “globalization of indifference”: the fact that we are gradually growing accustomed to the suffering of others, as if it were something normal (cf. Message for World Food Day, 16 October 2013, 2), or even worse, becoming resigned to such extreme and scandalous kinds of “using and discarding” and social exclusion as new forms of slavery, human trafficking, forced labour, prostitution and trafficking in organs.  “There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty aggravated by environmental degradation.  They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever” (Laudato Si’, 25).  Many lives, many stories, many dreams have been shipwrecked in our day.  We cannot remain indifferent in the face of this.  We have no right.

Together with neglect of the environment, we have witnessed for some time now a rapid process of urbanization, which in many cases has unfortunately led to a “disproportionate and unruly growth of many cities which have become unhealthy to live in [and] inefficient” (ibid., 44).  There we increasingly see the troubling symptoms of a social breakdown which spawns “increased violence and a rise in new forms of social aggression, drug trafficking, growing drug use by young people, loss of identity” (ibid., 46), a lack of rootedness and social anonymity (cf. ibid., 149).

Here I would offer a word of encouragement to all those working on the local and international levels to ensure that the process of urbanization becomes an effective means for development and integration.  This means working to guarantee for everyone, especially those living in outlying neighbourhoods, the basic rights to dignified living conditions and to land, lodging and labour.  There is a need to promote projects of city planning and maintenance of public areas which move in this direction and take into consideration the views of local residents; this will help to eliminate the many instances of inequality and pockets of urban poverty which are not simply economic but also, and above all, social and environmental.  The forthcoming Habitat-III Conference, planned for Quito in October 2016, could be a significant occasion for identifying ways of responding to these issues.

In a few days, Nairobi will host the 10th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization.  In 1967, my predecessor Pope Paul VI, contemplating an increasingly interdependent world and foreseeing the current reality of globalization, reflected on how commercial relationships between States could prove a fundamental element for the development of peoples or, on the other hand, a cause of extreme poverty and exclusion (Populorum Progressio, 56-62).  While recognizing that much has been done in this area, it seems that we have yet to attain an international system of commerce which is equitable and completely at the service of the battle against poverty and exclusion.  Commercial relationships between States, as an indispensable part of relations between peoples, can do as much to harm the environment as to renew it and preserve it for future generations.

It is my hope that the deliberations of the forthcoming Nairobi Conference will not be a simple balancing of conflicting interests, but a genuine service to care of our common home and the integral development of persons, especially those in greatest need.  I would especially like to echo the concern of all those groups engaged in projects of development and health care – including those religious congregations which serve the poor and those most excluded – with regard to agreements on intellectual property and access to medicines and essential health care.  Regional free trade treaties dealing with the protection of intellectual property, particularly in the areas of pharmaceutics and biotechnology, should not only maintain intact the powers already granted to States by multilateral agreements, but should also be a means for ensuring a minimum of health care and access to basic treatment for all.  Multilateral discussions, for their part, should allow poorer countries the time, the flexibility and the exceptions needed for them to comply with trade regulations in an orderly and relatively smooth manner. Interdependence and the integration of economies should not bear the least detriment to existing systems of health care and social security; instead, they should promote their creation and good functioning.  Certain health issues, like the elimination of malaria and tuberculosis, treatment of so-called orphan diseases, and neglected sectors of tropical medicine, require urgent political attention, above and beyond all other commercial or political interests.

Africa offers the world a beauty and natural richness which inspire praise of the Creator.  This patrimony of Africa and of all mankind is constantly exposed to the risk of destruction caused by human selfishness of every type and by the abuse of situations of poverty and exclusion.  In the context of economic relationships between States and between peoples, we cannot be silent about forms of illegal trafficking which arise in situations of poverty and in turn lead to greater poverty and exclusion.  Illegal trade in diamonds and precious stones, rare metals or those of great strategic value, wood, biological material and animal products, such as ivory trafficking and the relative killing of elephants, fuels political instability, organized crime and terrorism.  This situation too is a cry rising up from humanity and the earth itself, one which needs to be heard by the international community.

In my recent visit to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, I expressed the desire and hope that the work of the United Nations and of all its multilateral activities may be “the pledge of a secure and happy future for future generations.  And so it will, if the representatives of the States can set aside partisan and ideological interests, and sincerely strive to serve the common good” (Address to the UN, 25 September 2015).

Once again I express the support of the Catholic community, and my own, to continue to pray and work that the fruits of regional cooperation, expressed today in the African Union and the many African agreements on commerce, cooperation and development, may be vigorously pursued and always take into account the common good of the sons and daughters of this land.

May the blessing of the Most High be with each of you and your peoples. Thank you.

CNS photo/Paul Haring

Pope In Kenya: Impromptu Address of Pope Francis during Meeting with Religious and Clergy


On Thursday, September 26, 2015, Pope Francis met with the clergy and religious men and women of Nairobi at a sports field at St. Mary’s School. The Holy Father set aside his prepared remarks and spoke from his heart in his mother tongue. Below you will find the full video footage of the delivery with simultaneous translation into English provided by Monsignor Mark Miles. The full text of the Holy Father’s remarks will be published here once a translation is made available.