KAMPALA OCTOBER 30, 2015(CISA) – Head of Uganda’s Gulu archdiocese and president of the Ugandan Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Odama, explains the upcoming Pope Francis visit as the visit of a spiritual ‘grandfather’ who offers encouragement and a sense of identity.
“It is very wonderful, we are very excited in the country about the coming of the Pope,” the archbishop said in an interview by CNA.
“For us, we see him as a grandfather coming to the home of the child… coming to see how this child is (living) the family life in his home.” he added.
“Pope Francis’ presence will strengthen the Ugandan people, giving us a sense of identity and a sense that we belong, and he is our father and we are also his children and he is guiding us to our ultimate father, God,” said the bishop.
His visit falls just ahead of the Central African Republic’s presidential transition, and just after the 50th anniversary of the canonization of the Uganda Martyrs.
Saint Charles Lwanga and his 21 companions were killed by the king in the 1880s alongside 23 Anglican converts to Christianity for refusing to recant their faith, and were canonized October 18, 1964, by Bl. Pope Paul VI in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Preparations have already begun for the celebration of the Golden Anniversary of the canonization, with the local Church holding a diocese-wide conference on the 22 saints.
The Shrine of both the Anglican and Catholic martyrs at Namugongo will be Francis’ first main stop in Uganda, after arriving at the Ugandan airport of Entebbe the evening of November 27.
Archbishop Odama said that Pope Francis will likely encourage Ugandans to be like the martyrs, and to follow the example of his brothers and sisters who died for us.
“Pope Francis is coming to encourage us, so we look forward with great hope and are preparing ourselves. I think God will bless his visit and it will be a joy for us all,” he said.