On arriving in Uganda, the second visit of his three-nation tour through Africa, Pope Francis praised the generosity of the Ugandan people in welcoming refugees.
“Uganda has shown outstanding concern for welcoming refugees,” Francis said in an address Friday afternoon to authorities and the diplomatic corps, “enabling them to rebuild their lives in security and to sense the dignity which comes from earning one’s livelihood through honest labor.”
“Our world, caught up in wars, violence, and various forms of injustice, is witnessing an unprecedented movement of peoples,” he said. “How we deal with them is a test of our humanity, our respect for human dignity, and above all our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need.”
In a tweet later Friday evening, Pope Francis repeated his message, thanking Uganda for its “generosity in welcoming refugees.”
The world is witnessing an unprecedented migration of peoples. I want to thank Uganda for its generosity in welcoming refugees.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) November 27, 2015
The Pope took the occasion to call attention to the witness of the Ugandan martyrs, who were canonized fifty years ago by Pope Paul VI.
“The Martyrs, both Catholic and Anglican, are true national heroes,” Francis said. “They bear witness to the guiding principles expressed in Uganda’s motto – For God and My Country. They remind us of the importance that faith, moral rectitude and commitment to the common good have played, and continue to play, in the cultural, economic and political life of this country.”
The Pope didn’t refrain from veiled criticism of Uganda’s national leaders, in urging them to ensure “good and transparent governance” in a country known for high levels of political corruption.
The Pope said that the purpose of his visit is “to draw attention to Africa as a whole, its promise, its hopes, its struggles and its achievements.”
“The world looks to Africa as the continent of hope,” he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome