Speeches 1993 - Nakivubo Stadium in Kampala (Uganda)





Nakiyanja (Uganda)

Sunday, 7 February 1993

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Ep 1,2). With these words of the Apostle Paul, I am pleased to greet the leaders and members of the Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities in Uganda. Through you, I extend my cordial greetings to all Christ’s followers in Uganda.

Our meeting today at Nakiyanja evokes the memory of those early Christians of Uganda, both Anglicans and Catholics, who gave their lives for their faith in Jesus Christ. Their example reminds us of the immense power of Christ’s grace, which can transform apparent powerlessness into strength, sorrow into joy and death into eternal life. The mystery of the Cross was vividly present at the birth of Christianity in Uganda. Let us pray that its redemptive power will sustain the Christians of today in their witness to the Gospel and in the quest for full unity in faith, hope and love.

2. Commitment to work for the unity of Christians is demanded of all the baptized. We learn this from the Apostle Paul, who tells us: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ... for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Ga 3,27-28). By virtue of their common Baptism, Christians share a responsibility to bring about the unity willed by our Lord Jesus Christ. On the night before he died, Jesus prayed that "they may all be one, even as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they may also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17,21). May our meeting today help us to give a fitting response to that prayer.

Here in Uganda, I am pleased to note the significant initiatives for Christian unity carried out within the framework of the Uganda Joint Christian Council. Especially in recent years, the Council has played an important role in the work for peace and reconciliation among all Ugandans.

3. Dear Friends: our presence here today is a sign of a new readiness on the part of separated Christians to work together for full unity. The divisions still existing among us impair the vitality of the Gospel and become a scandal to the world, particularly when we appear to proclaim a "Kingdom divided against itself" (Lc 11,17). By our divisions the credibility of the Gospel is weakened.

Christian unity must of course be implored as a gift of God, and we are confident that it will be granted in accordance with the Lord’s will. Christians must never cease to pray and sacrifice for unity. They are also called to support the efforts at theological dialogue, mutual witness and practical cooperation undertaken by their respective communities. Such cooperation among Christians "vividly expresses that bond which already unites them, and it sets in clearer relief the features of Christ the Servant" (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 12). Here in Uganda, cooperation in the health–care and social fields is being promoted by the Joint Christian Council. Other forms of ecumenical cooperation include the work of joint Bible translation and community development. These are good examples of what Christians can do together in their common witness, particularly on behalf of the people of Uganda, who hunger and thirst for life in God through fellowship with Jesus his Son.

Ecumenical cooperation, important as it is, must not become an end in itself, because this would obscure its real purpose, which is the quest for full visible unity among separated Christians. For this reason, some forum for ongoing reflection on the reasons for joint ecumenical work would be helpful. I am aware that the Kampala Ecumenical Study Group, with the support of the various Church leaders, has served a valuable function in this regard.

4. As I have said on a number of occasions, the Catholic Church is firmly committed to the ecumenical movement and to fostering cooperation between separated Christians (Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Sacred College of Cardinals, 28 June 1985; Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 32). In place of the suspicion, distrust and antagonism which all too often have marred relations between Christians in Uganda in the past, the Catholic Church desires to give support and encouragement to all efforts to promote the unity of all believers in the bond of peace (Cf. Eph. Ep 4,3).

Dear brothers and sisters: it is my fervent hope and prayer that your desire for the unity of all Christians will increase day by day, in answer to the Saviour’s prayer "that they may all be one" (Jn 17,21). Upon all of you I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings.

Remarks of the Pope at the conclusion of the visit to the Shrine:

Thank you very much for your hospitality. It is worth saying the emotion I experience at this place of the martyrdom of your ancestors, the Uganda Martyrs, both together, Anglicans and Catholics, burnt by the fire. It was the fire of the Holy Spirit, burnt in the heart and the unity of Jesus Christ! It is my desire that this fire of the Holy Spirit will bring us together in the same Church, in the same unity of Jesus Christ through his Holy Spirit.

Thank you very much for your hospitality. God bless you.





Saint Francis Hospital, Nsambya (Uganda)

Sunday, 7 February 1993

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. With joy and affection I greet you, the sick and disabled of Uganda, and invoke upon you the grace and mercy of God our Father. With this Message, which I entrust to Bishop Henry Ssentongo, President of the Medical Bureau of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, it is my desire to embrace all of you who are living the mystery of human suffering in this beloved African nation.

The Church feels particularly close to those who are suffering in mind or body, whatever their social or economic condition or their religious affiliation. In each one she sees the image of Christ her Saviour, who became man in order to save us from our sins and to bring us eternal life. Following the example and command of Jesus, her Master and Lord, she reaches out with mercy and compassion to every human being, but especially to the poor, the sick and the disabled. This loving concern, essential to her mission, finds concrete expression not only in the establishment of her many hospitals, clinics and dispensaries, but also and above all in the physical and spiritual care provided by her priests and Religious and by the many lay men and women–doctors, nurses and other health–care professionals–whom she sets forth as examples to civil society for their selfless devotion to others. Through these means the Church wishes "to meet people in a special way on the path of their suffering" (cf. John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris, 3), and to offer to them the hope and consolation of the Gospel.

2. My greeting to you is one of joy and peace, born of the serene trust which Christians have in Jesus Christ. We are confident that the Lord will one day make us sharers in his glory if we but suffer with him, as Saint Peter so beautifully wrote: "Rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed" (1P 4,13). Despite the pain, frustration and loneliness which we may experience, we know that in Christ we find light and hope even in the midst of suffering.

In the Cross of Jesus Christ, God gave the definitive answer to all evil, both moral and physical. The Father did not abandon his creation when death and suffering entered the world as a result of sin (cf. Gen. Gn 3,15-19). Rather, he "so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3,16). Because of this gift of the Father’s love, revealed most fully in the Death and Resurrection of Christ, we can now live in hope–not the false hope that we will never have to suffer–but in the real hope of eternal life. In the light of the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s Cross and Resurrection we find a completely new and definitive reason for hope in the face of suffering and death, a hope which spurs us on "to go forward through the thick darkness of humiliations, doubts, hopelessness and persecution" (John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris, 20).

3. Dear brothers and sisters, because of our incorporation into Christ through Baptism Christians are given a share in the mystery of Christ’s Cross, the mystery by which he chose to redeem the world. Because it was by suffering that Jesus brought grace and mercy to us all, each of us "is also called to share in that suffering through which the Redemption was accomplished" (John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris, 19) . Through the Cross a transcendent dimension and salvific meaning has been brought to human suffering, giving it a purpose and value never before imagined. "Thus, each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ" (Ibid.).

Christians are therefore invited to look not merely at themselves, but to see with the eyes of faith the great good that can be accomplished if they offer their sufferings in union with the Cross of Christ, as a pleasing sacrifice to God our Father. How many people there are in Uganda who can be helped by our prayers! I am thinking of the orphans, the young men seeking employment, the families struggling to survive, the people addicted to alcohol or drugs, the men and women who have never heard the Gospel of Christ, the elderly, the lonely and especially those whose illness may be even greater than our own. "I appeal to you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Rm 12,1).

Those who generously embrace the Cross of Jesus Christ and offer their sufferings in union with the saving power of his eternal sacrifice can help bring new life to the people of Uganda and to men and women throughout the world. Saint Paul saw clearly how much the Church was enriched by the sufferings of Christians when they are borne with patience and love: "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church" (Col 1,24). The Church needs the spiritual gift which only the sick are able to offer. Bear your sufferings in union with the Lord, confident that one day you will be glorified with him. For "the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Rm 8,18).

4. And now I would like to address in particular those among you who are suffering from AIDS. I know well that within one decade this dreaded disease has already affected so many of your people, and left thousands of children without parental care. Many of you are already bed–ridden, many others diagnosed as seropositive, others living in constant fear of contracting the disease. There is only One who can give you hope and confidence in the midst of such pain, fear and even death itself. He is Christ, who said: "Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light" (Mt 11,28-30). Never lose heart! At times the yoke may not seem easy nor the burden light, but the Lord assures you, as he did Saint Paul: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2Co 12,9). Christ is at your side; do not doubt his presence or the strength of his grace!

The scourge of AIDS challenges everyone. As the Bishops of Uganda have rightly observed: "This situation, which is affecting everyone, needs to be confronted in solidarity, with much love and care for the victims, with much generosity to the orphans and with much commitment to a renewed way of Christian moral living" (Pastoral Letter of the Ugandan Bishops, Let Your Light Shine, 28). Indeed all people of goodwill are called to reflect on the deeper social and moral issues associated with this disease. Parallel to the spread of AIDS, there is a dangerous crisis of values in some societies, as many people grow crippled in spirit, indifferent to the virtues and spiritual values which alone can guarantee true happiness and the authentic progress of society. This spiritual crisis especially affects the young, on whom the future of your country depends.

You who suffer from AIDS have an important role to play in this vital struggle for the well–being of your country! Offer your sufferings in union with Christ for your brothers and sisters who are especially at risk! Your suffering can be a gracefilled opportunity to bring about the moral rebirth of Ugandan society.

I invoke the comforting and strengthening gifts of God’s unfailing love upon those who suffer from AIDS and upon all those who are generously engaged in caring for them. At the same time I appeal to those who are working to find an effective scientific response to this illness not to delay, and above all not to allow commercial considerations to detract from their committed efforts.

5. The Church’s deep love and esteem for the sick were beautifully expressed in the words of my predecessor Pope Paul VI to the patients of the National Hospital in Mulogo during his visit in 1969. Dear friends, I now ask you to take these words to heart: "Like our Lord on the Cross, you cannot move about freely; but, like him you can hold your arms open wide to the entire world, and offer your sufferings for the salvation of men.... Let your hospital bed be an altar upon which you offer yourself completely to God, to do with as he wishes; and your reward will be exceedingly great in heaven" (Paul VI, Address to the Sick in the National Hospital of Mulogo, 1 Aug. 1969).

The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ shed light on the true meaning and value of human suffering. The Lord invites everyone to join him on the road to Calvary and to share in the joy of Easter. On that journey we are never alone; the Blessed Virgin Mary, who stood at the foot of her Son’s Cross, is ever at our side. Invoking her intercession and that of Saint Charles Lwanga and all the Uganda Martyrs, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, your loved ones, and all who care for you, as a pledge of God’s grace and comfort.






Nsambya (Uganda)

Sunday, 7 February 1993

I thank you for your visit, all representatives, leaders, of the Muslim community here in Uganda. Archbishop Wamala said that you are cooperating and that in doing so, you are also accomplishing the will of God, our Creator, our Father. God has created all of us, men and women, the whole human race, to cooperate–to cooperate in order to improve the world. He, our God, committed us, the world, to being inhabited, to being used, not abused, not abused, used, and to serving the human being, human existence. It is necessary to cooperate all together, for the riches of the world are sometimes in danger and the human community is many times is in danger. It requires the cooperation of all of us who believe in the same God, the one God of Abraham, the Father who gave us his son Jesus Christ. Thank you very much for your visit.





Nsambya (Uganda)

Sunday, 7 February 1993

Dear Friends,

1. With great affection in the Lord Jesus Christ I am very pleased to greet representatives of the sick and disabled of Uganda here at Saint Francis Hospital in Nsambya. My cordial good wishes also go to the doctors, nurses, and medical professionals devoted to their care.

In a few days, on 11 February, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the universal Church will celebrate the first World Day of the Sick. This celebration has been established in order to manifest the Church’s concern for the sick and her commitment to care for their physical and spiritual needs. These are essential aspects of the Church’s witness to Christ in all the countries in which she is found.

Here in Uganda, the Church’s mission of ministering to the sick is carried out by numerous hospitals and health–care centres, including this hospital, established by Mother Kevin Kearney, foundress of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa, in 1906. Since then, it has grown steadily and expanded its programmes and services until it is now the largest non–government hospital in the country. The extensive medical, rehabilitative and home–care services provided are impressive, and all is done in that spirit of charity which comes from the example of the Lord Jesus himself, who promised to bless those who serve the least of his brethren (Cf. Mt. Mt 10,42). In the name of the whole Church, I gladly take this occasion to thank those who, following the example of the Good Samaritan, bring compassion and help to the sick in their hour of need.

2. My dear sick and disabled brothers and sisters: Saint Paul taught us that in a mysterious way our sufferings, when joined to the redemptive sacrifice of Christ, take on a saving power for the life of his Church. He wrote to the Colossians: "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church" (Col 1,24).

"I rejoice!" How difficult it often is for you to rejoice, when pain, illness, the loss of physical strength and the separation from loved ones can lead you to impatience, frustration, loneliness, and even to the verge of despair. Suffering finds its meaning and fulfilment only in faith and charity: in the faith that our patient endurance "works for good with those who love God" (Rm 8,28), and in that charity which causes us to take up our cross each day (Cf. Lk. Lc 9,23) in order to follow Christ, who won our salvation by laying down his life for his friends (Cf. Jn. Jn 15,13 Ga 2,20). We have full confidence that we indeed "complete what is lacking in Christ’s affliction for the sake of his Body... the Church". Your brothers and sisters in Uganda need you: they need your prayers and your generous self–sacrifice! Your patient endurance can help bring them life and hope, if you embrace the will of God without reserve, trusting that you will be able to do all things in him who gives you strength (Cf. Phil. Ph 4,13).

The Church, together with all men and women of good will, is deeply distressed at the great number of individuals in Uganda, particularly children and young people, who are suffering from AIDS, and at the untold hardship which this disease has brought to families, communities and the Nation itself. Today I wish to make my own the words of your Bishops, who wrote: "This situation which is affecting everybody in the country needs to be confronted in solidarity, with much love and care for the victims, with much generosity to the orphans and with much commitment to a renewed way of Christian moral living" (Pastoral Letter of the Ugandan Bishops, Let Your Light Shine, 28). The sick too have a special role to play in meeting the challenge of AIDS: you can offer your suffering for the spread of Christ’s truth and love throughout this beloved Nation. I encourage you to "let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Mt 5,16).

3. I now entrust to Bishop Henry Ssentongo, President of the Medical Bureau of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, the written Message I have addressed to all the sick and disabled in Uganda. In doing so, I offer fervent prayers to God, through the intercession of the patron of this hospital, Saint Francis, the Poor Man of Assisi who bore in his body the marks of Christ’s Passion, that he will help all the sick of Uganda to offer up their sufferings "as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God" (Rm 12,1) for the well–being of the people of this country and the whole world. May the prayers of Mary, Health of the Sick, and of Saint Charles Lwanga and the Uganda Martyrs, sustain you in this resolve. To all of you and your families, and to the doctors, nurses, administrators and staff of Saint Francis Hospital, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

Baana bange abaagalwa
Mbasaasira obulwadde.
Kristu abagumye
Era abawe omukisa.

(Dear sons and daughters,
I sympathize with you.
May Christ comfort you,
and may he bless you).






Kampala (Uganda)

Sunday, 7 February 1993

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. This Pastoral Visit to Uganda, which I have looked forward to so eagerly, can in some way be said to reciprocate your ad Limina visit to Rome last May. I thank you once again for your invitation and for the careful preparations you have made in order that this pilgrimage may strengthen the faith of the Church in Uganda. For the kind words of welcome that Archbishop Wamala spoke on your behalf, I am also very grateful.

It has been a joy for me to spend this Sunday in offering Christ’s love to his people in Uganda–and in receiving such love in return. Like all Bishops, I too must preach the Gospel, "for necessity is laid upon me" (1Co 9,16). As Pastors, our supreme duty is to make known "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ep 3,8) on every occasion the Lord gives us, and today in our offering of the Holy Eucharist at the Martyrs’ Shrine we have fulfilled this obligation, for through our priestly service the Lord himself has spoken to his people and has nourished them with the Bread of Heaven (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 7). Celebrating the Saviour’s Death and Resurrection, as well as meeting our brothers and sisters of other Christian denominations, and comforting the sick, in imitation of the Good Samaritan, were truly ways to be about the work of the Father.

Yet even in the midst of much activity, the Lord invites us to moments such as this, moments of reflection and fraternal communion, so that we can praise the Father for what he is accomplishing through us and rekindle that pastoral charity appropriate to our Episcopal ministry.

2. My presence in Uganda evokes the memory of the Pastoral Visit of another pilgrim Pope, my beloved predecessor Paul VI, who was the first Successor of Peter in modern times to set foot on African soil. The four of you whom he ordained Bishop in 1969 are a living link between that historic Visit and this evening’s meeting. At that ordination ceremony Pope Paul spoke of the sacred duties of Bishops, who receive "an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit" so that they may be "vehicles and instruments of the love of Christ for men". "Bishops are ministers", the Pope observed, "they are servants; they are not for themselves but for others.... They are for the Church, and to the Church they offer all their life (cf. 2Co 12,15)... For it is of you, Beloved Brothers, Bishops of newborn or very young Churches, that pastoral love is required in a superior degree" (Paul VI, Homily on the occasion of the episcopal ordinations in Kampala, 1 August 1969). This pastoral love, which the Pope spoke of with such feeling, is a sharing in the love of the Son of God himself (Cf. John Paul II Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 23). The gift of self which the Holy Spirit enables those who receive Holy Orders to make is a participation in the self–giving of the Good Shepherd in laying down his life for his flock (Cf. Jn. Jn 10,11). This pastoral charity is the foundation for any good we are able to accomplish in the Church, because the communion of love which binds together the members of Christ’s Body can only be built up in love.

3. My visit to Uganda is an opportunity to experience in a particularly vivid way our communion in the Holy Trinity. It is likewise, as you indicate in the Pastoral Letter published in preparation for my visit, an opportunity for recommitment to the deeds of faith, hope and love, which bear witness to the Risen Saviour. Your identification of the specific areas in which the faithful of Uganda are being challenged to live up to their Christian vocation is a true reading of "the signs of the times" in your Nation. In this you are continuing the renewal set in progress by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council. This initiative of your Episcopal Conference seems to me of such importance for the life of the Church in Uganda that I would like to draw from that Pastoral Letter some points for my remarks this evening, reflections which are intended to complement or expand upon the matters discussed during your recent visit ad Limina.

4. Your Pastoral Letter deals at length with the many ways in which the Catholics of Uganda can make their contribution to the civil order. Your call for renewed vigour in building up the Nation comes at a crucial point in its history. As the people of Uganda emerge from a period of violence and social upheaval, they are seeking to reconstruct the Nation, and so there is a pressing need for the members of the Catholic community to give themselves generously to deeds of solidarity.

Here, as in every land or nation, the most significant goods to be reinforced in the life of the people are the spiritual and moral ones. Without these they will not experience a "development" worthy of the name. Among the essential components of a sound civic life are such things as the recognition of the dignity of every human person, respect for the rights which are rooted in that dignity – especially the right to life and the right to religious liberty – and an effective commitment to secure the well–being of the poor, the weak and the defenceless (Cf. John Paul II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 33 Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 33. 42). To build a society which treats these realities as a treasured patrimony is to build the culture of peace, a milieu in which citizens will find it all the easier to achieve the ends for which they were created.

For most of the period since Uganda’s independence, these spiritual goods have been–sad to say–under assault by reason of the strife which often pitted those in power against the people and which set citizen against citizen. The fact that the Nation is emerging from the shadows of those years does not mean that all dangers to the culture of peace have passed. Even now the temptation to keep alive and nurture past grievances can pose a threat to society’s well–being. At this moment in Uganda’s history, therefore, it falls to the Church to answer with ever greater fidelity God’s injunction to be a reconciling community (Cf. John Paul II Reconciliatio et Paenitentia RP 8). The members of the People of God live with a profound sense that they have been forgiven much and that they should forgive generously in return (Cf. Mt. Mt 18,23-35). This awareness should bear fruit in a readiness on the part of all the faithful of Uganda to put aside hatred and thus testify to the truth that the spirit of mercy is stronger than the spirit of revenge. In this regard we cannot fail to mention the specific role of Catholic lay leaders. To them are entrusted the affairs of the temporal order: politics, economics, the direction of society (Cf. Lumen Gentium LG 31 John Paul II Christifideles Laici CL 15). In these fields they "are called upon to engage directly in dialogue or to work for dialogue aimed at reconciliation" (Cf. John Paul II Reconciliatio et Paenitentia RP 25), and in Uganda the need for these steps towards restoring harmony is indeed pressing.

No one, of course, should imagine that by inviting the Catholic citizens of Uganda to work for community renewal you are implying that this duty is theirs alone. No, the cooperation of Christians of all Churches and Ecclesial Communities with one another, as well as with followers of other religions, is not only welcome, but indispensable (Cf. John Paul II Message for the World Day of Peace, 1992, 6-7).

5. Bringing the light of the Gospel to all men and women is the fundamental obligation placed by Christ upon his disciples (Cf. Mt Mt 28,19 John Paul II Redemptoris missio RMi 71). Saint Paul’s words in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, "We... believe, so we speak" (2Co 4,13), point to the fact that spreading the word of God is an essential part of the act of faith in that word. Under the direction of the Bishops, the whole People of God shares in the work of proclaiming that his Kingdom has come. As indicated in your Pastoral Letter, there is a wide scope for this work of proclaiming the Gospel here in Uganda. A sizeable portion of the population has not yet received the light of Christ. At the same time there is a need to confirm in their Catholic faith those who are tempted to drift away from the Church and abandon the demands of a sound spirituality in an unproductive search for "visions" and "cures" or by joining newly–established sects. With a renewed commitment on the part of all the faithful in this Nation, the seed will be sown in abundance and will grow in the soil of Uganda, and from the sowing God will produce an abundant harvest (Cf. Mt. Mt 13,8 1Co 3,7).

6. Regarding what you wrote in your Pastoral Letter about a recommitment to continuing the inculturation of the Christian faith, I am very hopeful the work of the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops will throw new light on this difficult and delicate task. Wisely, you echo the Fathers of the Council in pointing out that the origin and exemplar for this inculturation is the mystery of the Incarnation (Cf. Ad Gentes AGD 22). In the union of God and man in Christ, nothing of the Divine Truth was lost, and Christ’s every utterance and every action were nothing less than manifestations of the Only–begotten Son (Cf. Council of Ephesus, Denz.-Schönm. 255; Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 468). All attempts in our day to express this ineffable Word in the cultural realities of a people or race must likewise ensure that nothing is lost from or added to the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Only those who truly know Christ, and truly know their own cultural inheritance, can discern how the Divine Word may be fittingly presented through the medium of that culture. It follows that there can be no authentic inculturation which does not proceed from contemplating the Word of God and from growing in likeness to him through holiness of life. And in the end, it is for the Magisterium of the Church to judge which new voices have succeeded in expressing the timeless mystery of the Triune God and his love for us.

Because the recently–published Catechism of the Catholic Church offers a complete and systematic presentation of the riches of the Good News kept "for ever whole and alive within the Church" (Dei Verbum DV 7), it represents a providential support in the task of inculturation.The Catechism is "a sure norm for teaching the faith" (John Paul II, Fidei Depositum, 4), and so I am confident that you and all who labour with you will find it a clear and reliable guide in preaching that Jesus is our one and only Mediator with the Father, in teaching about the Church’s role as sign and instrument of salvation for all mankind, in expounding the moral demands of the life of grace, and in explaining the relation of non–Christian religions to Revelation.

7. I fully agree with the emphasis you have placed in your Pastoral Letter on the need to strengthen family life. Indeed, the strengthening of family life is an essential step in renewing society, for it is in the home that a society’s culture is transmitted and nurtured and its future determined. The State as well as the Church must make the protection and advancement of the family one of its highest priorities.

The Christian families of this Nation have a crucial role to play in civil society, yet their task is likewise an essentially ecclesial one. It is helpful to remember that the Christian family is rightly called a "Church in miniature (Ecclesia domestica)", for it is "grafted into the mystery of the Church to such a degree as to become a sharer, in its own way, in the saving mission proper to the Church" (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio FC 49). In this communion established by the Sacrament of Matrimony, spouses become like the Church – a saved community which is also called to be a saving community through sharing Christ’s love with others, first and foremost with the sons and daughters given them by God (Cf. ibid.). The Church’s pastoral action must be specifically directed to helping Christian parents fulfil this noble vocation. At times it may be necessary to remind your co–workers that the pastoral care of families is not a question of new and sometimes superficial programmes, but is the result of a penetrating catechesis which leads couples and their children to a deeper faith, to a more wholehearted participation in the sacraments – especially Penance and the Holy Eucharist – to a more fervent life of prayer and to a more generous service of each other.

By praying together the members of a Christian family clearly express that their communion is not limited to this world but is a sharing in the eternal communion of the Holy Trinity. Such prayer likewise teaches children the ways of discipleship. When parents and children join together in praising and thanking God every day–in times of joy as well as in moments of anxiety and grief, the young learn to entrust their whole lives to the Heavenly Father (Cf. ibid., 60). No pastor of souls can fail to insist on the importance of prayer in the Christian life of the faithful.

8. Your Pastoral Letter gives special prominence to the role which the youth of Uganda can play in proclaiming the Good News of Salvation. There is in this an echo of the sentiments of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council: "Young people should become the primary and direct apostles to the young...; children also have an apostolic activity proper to them" (Cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem AA 12). Since "even before activity, mission means witness and a way of life that shines out to others" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 26), those who have yet to reach maturity are nonetheless very capable of showing the beauty of a genuinely Christian approach to life. Insofar as they are helped to respond to the grace of Baptism, young people’s enthusiasm for the future makes them effective witnesses to the truth that "in everything God works for good with those who love him" (Rm 8,28). Similarly, that youthful energy for helping others becomes a reflection of the Lord’s own example of being the servant of all (Cf. Mt. Mt 20,28). Such a testimony to the love of Christ will not fail to attract others to him.

The missionary apostolate of Uganda’s young Catholics needs to be channelled through parish groups and youth movements and associations. Here you will need to discern what is sound and useful, and what forms of association truly reflect your people’s character. Elsewhere I have expressed my conviction that the Holy Spirit is preparing a "new springtime for the Gospel" (Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 86). We should not be surprised if he uses those who are "little" (Cf. 1Cor. 1Co 1,26), those in the springtime of their lives, to accomplish his purpose.

9. Dear Brothers, today I rejoice as a pilgrim who has reached the goal of his journey to Uganda: the Holy Shrine of the Martyrs, the very ground made sacred by their deaths. To have offered the Holy Eucharist there with you and your people is a consummate joy, for it is truly right and just for us to make present the Sacrifice of Calvary on the spot where the glory of our Saviour’s Passion shone out in the members of his Mystical Body (Cf. Phil. Ph 3,10). I will remember the experiences of this day, and that recollection will often become a prayer to Saint Charles Lwanga and his Companions for the beloved people of Uganda. "Indeed, the Lord is good" (Cf. Ps. ) to have brought me to Uganda.

Commending you and all your priests, Religious and lay faithful to the loving intercession of Our Lady of Hope, I impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of love and peace in Christ her Son.

Speeches 1993 - Nakivubo Stadium in Kampala (Uganda)