UGANDA: Catholic bishops plan Pope Francis’ first trip to Africa

ugThe Catholic Church in Uganda has formally invited Pope Francis to visit the east African nation in October next year, which could be the Argentine pope’s first visit to the continent since his election on March 13.

Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga, head of the archdiocese of Kampala, personally delivered the invitation letter to the pope on September 21, 2013.

“According to the archbishop, the pope promised to look at his schedule and respond accordingly,” New Contact, a monthly magazine published by the Uganda Episcopal Conference, reported.

Pope Francis, 76, is expected to be the main celebrant at a special mass at Numugongo Shrine concluding year-long festivities marking the 50th anniversary of the canonisation of the Uganda Martyrs. Archbishop Lwanga launched the jubilee year on October 18.

The 22 Uganda Martyrs were declared saints by Pope Paul VI on October 18, 1964 at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

A torch that was lit at the launch of the jubilee celebrations will go through all the 54 parishes of the Archdiocese of Kampala.

Pope Francis’ focus since election has been on reform of the inner workings of the church, particularly the Vatican bureaucracy. But his deep interest in the welfare of the poor, promoting justice and peace and safeguarding creation could see him visit Africa, where some the world’s poorest people live often in the context of politically instigated violence and state failure.

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