Pope Francis (left) and Padre Federico Lombardi speak to journalists on board his plane during his trip back to Rome from the Philippines on January 19, 2015.
Pope Francis has announced he will visit Uganda later this year.
The announcement, which was made on Monday at the conclusion of his Asian tour, was in response to a question from one of the journalists aboard the Papal plane. “I will respond hypothetically. The plan is to go to the Central African Republic and Uganda, these two, this year,” the Holy Father said.
“I think that this will be towards the end of the year, because of the weather, no? They (protocol) have to calculate when there won’t be rains, when there won’t be bad weather,” he added.
“This trip is a bit overdue, because there was the Ebola problem. It is a big responsibility to hold big gatherings, (with a possibility of) contagion, no? But in these countries there is no problem. These two are hypothetical, but it will be this year.”
Should the Pope visit Uganda as he hinted, this will be his first trip to Africa since he was elected Pope in March 2013. He succeeded Pope Benedict XVI who resigned in February 2013, citing a “lack of strength of mind and body” due to his advanced age.
Pope Benedict XVI had earlier ascended to the throne after the death of Pope John Paul II in April 2005.
Pope John Pail II visited Uganda on February 7, 1993 and toured Gulu, Karamoja, Kasese and Namugongo Martyrs shrine.
The Argentine born, the first pontiff from Latin America, also confirmed plans to travel to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay in July.
ATTRACTED IMMENSE ADMIRATION
The Pope whose birth name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, has attracted immense admiration from different parts of the globe for his humility.
As news of his visit filtered in, government and the Catholic Church in Uganda remained tight-lipped.
Acting minister of Foreign Affairs, Henry Okello Oryem said government was still waiting for an official communication from the Holy See about the pontifical visit.
“The last time we were in Vatican, the President invited him to Uganda and he expressed interest and said he would consider it. We have not yet received formal communication from the Vatican confirming this,” he said yesterday.
President Museveni visited the Vatican in November with the First Lady Janet Museveni and a host of other senior government officials on a four-day official trip.
During the trip, the President beseeched Pope Francis to visit the land of Uganda Martyrs and in response, the Pope expressed willingness after a 30-minute closed meeting. “I am willing to come to Uganda,” the Pope said then.
Later President Museveni said in a statement in August that when the Pope asked him to pray for his visit, he responded: “I said, not only would I pray for him, but, I would ask all Ugandans to pray for him and for the visit.”
The Catholic Church invited the Pope last year to preside over the canonisation of Uganda Martyrs, who were burnt on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga November 1885 and January 1887.Source AFP