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1st September 2018 - Pope begs for church's pardon

Ever since Pope Francis came to Rome as the Roman Catholic Church Leader, I have felt a huge charge whenever his name is mentioned, in the same way I did for Pope John Paul I (26 August 1978 – 28 September 1978, i.e. 33 days).

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He was called The Smiling Pope and The Smile of God. Pope Francis’ smile is not too bad either! Francis’ name was on everybody’s lips this past weekend when he visited Ireland, at one stage the most Catholic country on God’s earth. But, partly, stories of what happened to infants given up by their helpless mothers at the hands of homosexual priests, had many Irish, among other Catholics worldwide, into leaving the Church.

Now, in front of admittedly huge crowds, Pope Francis made powerful and highly emotional pleas for his Church to be forgiven. It proved a fraught two-day trip to Ireland. His pleas came especially when a retired diplomat from within the Vatican went as far as to demand the Pontiff’s own resignation. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano wrote in a highly charged testament that Pope Francis had failed to take action on allegations that Theodore McCarrick, a prominent figure in the RCC hierarchy, and former archbishop of Washington, “was a corrupt man [but the Pope] covered for him to the bitter end!” (McCarrick was a known rapacious homosexual.)

There was, said Vigano, “a conspiracy of silence not so dissimilar from the one that prevails in the mafia”. He was choosing his words bitterly, especially by using the word “mafia”. In any case Francis wasn’t the first Pope to be attacked with this epithet. He bitterly announced he wouldn’t answer Vigano’s testament with even a single word. It followed a wave of revelations, reports and resignations that hit the Catholic Church in recent months, threatening to engulf Francis’s papacy and providing ammunition for his enemies in the Vatican. (Are these present because Pope Francis comes from a hardly-known Catholic backwater, Argentina?)

Celebrating mass in Phoenix Park, Ireland, Francis cried: “We ask forgiveness for the abuses in Ireland, abuses of power, of conscience, and sexual abuses perpetrated by members with roles of responsibility in the church. In a special way, we ask pardon for all the abuses committed in various types of institutions run by males or females and by other members of the church.”

A 60s or 70s-aged RCC woman retorted that all Catholic officials who abused their positions, from archbishops and bishops downwards, should be thrown out of their jobs, and indeed the Church itself. To your columnist, surely a first consideration should be allowing priests to marry. Isn’t it inviting criminality of the worst sort, as seen in the forcible raping of helpless children, and even mature people, if you close off normal sex to able-bodied men and women? Why do that anyhow?! Over to Pope Francis, with his well-known love and respect for all humanity!

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With that off our chests, we can now tackle a subject of the utmost importance to Ugandans in the last fortnight or so, following the parliamentary elections for Arua Municipality. It isn’t the first time this subject has come up in this column, but since matters seem to have deteriorated rather than the reverse, especially concerning those who nearly lost their lives in damages to their health in body and mind, it would be extremely callous not to bring up what is happening.

This column brought two names of MPs who were especially injured, according to them by Government peacekeepers, (the irony of that isn’t lost upon us, especially as “keepers of the peace” would usually mean exactly that. But so many others injured in the fray come up daily that mere mention of their names and the gravity of their injuries force, for lack of space, their names to be merely represented by the two MPs already named: Zaake and Kyagulanyi. The two indeed went separately to the airport on Thursday to catch planes to bigger hospitals overseas and were separately not allowed. They could have been told not to bother going to the airport!

Was this because it was thus infinitely more harrowing to the injured, kin and friends? Harrowing, certainly! But, incidentally, by the same token, it sparkled with a courage born of pain and the will to see the adversity through. I’ve never been more proud of being Ugandan. And here’s another thing: much of this courage was first tickled in the last 40 years during which the Movement Government fought and won a six-year Bush war, against injustice. It ushered in a Uganda of which we are so proud, and from which those who have been so injured have got their resolve to fight battles for better!

“If the Mountain won’t come to Muhammad, Muhammad will come to the Mountain”, so it is said! The wonderfully learned Doctors, if the patients can’t go to them will come to the patients! Some say angrily that the Movement will never allow this to happen. I say angrily they abuse the Government, because Governments are there primarily to serve their citizens. What Ugandans of goodwill must do, is inform President Museveni that famous doctors from the outside World will have arrived to improve the health of Ugandans. How can he refuse?

 

     

 

 

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