Pope arrives in Uganda, calls Africa 'continent of hope'

Pope arrives in Uganda, calls Africa 'continent of hope'

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Pope Francis arrived in Uganda on Friday on the second leg of his Africa pilgrimage, declaring Africa the "continent of hope" & honoring Uganda's most famous Christians.

Francis arrived from Kenya at Entebbe International Airport, where Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni welcomed him along with a military brass band & traditional drummers & dancers gyrating their hips.

Francis, who is moreover scheduled to visit Central African Republic, is in Uganda mainly to honor the memory of a group of Ugandan Christians who were killed in the late 19th century on the orders of a local king eager to thwart the growing influence of Christianity.

p>Those victims, known as the Uganda Martyrs, include 45 Anglicans & Catholics killed between 1885 & 1887. Pope Paul VI canonized the 22 Ugandan Catholics in 1964.

"They remind us of the importance that faith, moral rectitude & commitment to the usual satisfactory have played, & continue to play, in the cultural, economic & political life of this country," Francis told Museveni & other Ugandan authorities & diplomats at a welcome ceremony at the state house.

In an unusual break with papal trip protocol, Museveni didn't offer welcoming remarks.

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Pope Francis listens as Uganda's President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni delivers his speech at the Sta …

Later Friday, a remarkably enthusiastic crowd, complete with more traditional dancers & shrieking faithful, greeted Francis as he arrived at a shrine honoring the martyrs in Munyonyo, where they were condemned to death. Francis said their witness helped Christianity grown in Uganda, & that the king's plot to "wipe out the followers of Christ" had failed.

Francis arrived in Kampala after a busy final day in Kenya that was highlighted by his visit to one of the capital's 11 slums & a spontaneous, off-the-cuff monologue to thousands of Kenyan youths approximately preventing young people from falling prey to corruption & radicalization to go fight with extremist groups.

In the Kangemi shanty, Francis denounced conditions slum-dwellers are forced to live in, saying access to safe water is a basic human right & that everyone should have dignified, adequate housing, access to sanitation, schools & hospitals.

"To deny a family water, under any bureaucratic pretext whatsoever, is a tremendous injustice, especially when one profits from this need," he said.

Residents lined the mud streets to welcome Francis, standing alongside goats & hens outside the corrugated tin-roofed shacks where many of the shantytown's small businesses operate: beauty parlors, cellphone "top-up" shops & storefront evangelical churches.

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Pope Francis waves to local residents as he drives to St. Joseph The Worker Catholic Church in the K …

Those lucky enough to score a spot at St. Joseph's parish erupted in cheers & hymns when Francis arrived, ululating & waving paper flags printed with his photo & the "Kariba Kenya" welcome that has been ubiquitous on the pope's first-ever visit to Africa.

Francis, known as the "slum pope" for his ministry in Buenos Aires' shantytowns, has frequently insisted on the need for the three "Ls" — land, labor & lodging. On Friday he focused on lodging as a critical issue facing the world amid rapid urbanization that is helping to upset Earth's delicate ecological balance.

Kangemi is one of 11 slums dotting Nairobi, East Africa's largest city, & is home to approximately 50,000 people. The U.N. Habitat program says some 60 percent of Nairobi's population lives on just 6 percent of the city's residential land in these unofficial settlements lacking basic sanitation or regular running water.

Francis denounced the practice of private corporations grabbing land illegally, depriving schools of their playgrounds & forcing the poor into ever more tightly packed slums, where violence & addiction are rampant.

In January, police tear-gassed schoolchildren demonstrating against the removal of their school's playground, which has been allegedly grabbed by powerful people. After an outcry, the Kenyan government declared the playground the property of the school.

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Pope Francis arrives at the Entebbe international airport, Uganda, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. Pope Franc …

"These are wounds inflicted by minorities who cling to power & wealth, who selfishly squander while a growing majority is forced to flee to abandoned, filthy & run-down peripheries," Francis said.

He called for a "respectful urban integration" with concrete initiatives to provide satisfactory quality housing for all.

His message was welcomed by residents of Kangemi, who said the city only pipes in water three days a week, Tuesday through Thursday, yet it's not safe to drink. Garbage collection goes to only those who can pay for it.

"Some people don't have toilets in their homes," said Emily Night, a mother of two who works at the St. Joseph's HIV counseling program. "Those that do, maybe 50 people are using it!"

Francis raised the issue of environmental deterioration in cities in his landmark encyclical "Praise Be," saying many megacities today have simply become health threats, "not only because of pollution caused by toxic emissions yet moreover as a result of urban chaos, poor transportation, & visual pollution & noise."

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Pope Francis arrives to visit the Kangemi neighborhood, in Nairobi, Kenya, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. Po …

After the visit to Kangemi, Francis received a rock-star welcome at Kasarani stadium, where he zoomed around the track in his open-sided popemobile to the delight of thousands of young Kenyans in the crowd. The stadium was so packed with the faithful that many more stood outside, unable to enter.

As he tends to do when surrounded by young people, Francis ditched his prepared speech & spoke off-the-cuff at length approximately problems Kenyan young people are facing, including the temptation to go the way of Kenya's many corrupt officials & institutions or to go off & join an extremist group.

Francis told the crowd that the way to prevent the young from being radicalized is to donate them an education & a job.

"If a young person has no work, what kind of a future does he or she have? That's where the idea of being recruited comes from," he said.

Kenyans make up the largest contingent of foreign fighters in the Somali based al-Qaida-linked extremist group al-Shabab, which has staged attacks in Kenya.

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Pope Francis arrives to visit the Kangemi neighborhood, in Nairobi, Kenya, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. Po …

Francis moreover urged the kids to resist the temptation of corruption, saying it's like sugar: You develop a taste for it yet it's ultimately terrible for you.

On Sunday, he is due to arrive in the Central African Republic.


Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield


Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield

Society & CultureReligion & BeliefsPope FrancisUgandaPresident Yoweri MuseveniAfricaUganda Martyrs

Source: “Associated Press”

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