Pope preaches against rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion of young peo­ple dur­ing East African visit

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

POPE FRAN­CIS is in Uganda, where he is due to com­mem­o­rate the 50th an­niver­sary of the canon­i­sa­tion of 22 Catholic mar­tyrs on the sec­ond leg of his tour of three African coun­tries.

The 78-year-old Ar­gen­tinian pon­tiff yes­ter­day walked onto a red car­pet to be wel­comed by Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni and other dig­ni­taries. Fran­cis will pay homage to 22 Catholics and 23 Angli­cans who were mur­dered on the or­ders of a lo­cal king try­ing to thwart the spread of Chris­tian­ity in the late 19th cen­tury. The Catholics were canon­ised in 1964.

Roads were sealed off lead­ing to Na­mu­gongo, which houses a shrine to the mar­tyrs and where hun­dreds of thou- sands of peo­ple are ex­pected to turn up for a mass cel­e­brated by Fran­cis to­day.

Mu­sev­eni and other politi­cians in­ter­rupted their cam­paign­ing for the Fe­bru­ary elec­tions while Uganda’s three main news­pa­pers ran spe­cial edi­tions on the pa­pal visit.

Fran­cis ar­rived in Uganda from Kenya, where he vis­ited the slum of Kangemi on the out­skirts of Nairobi yes­ter­day morn­ing, blam­ing “the dread­ful in­jus­tice of ur­ban ex­clu­sion” on those “who cling to power and wealth”.

An un­just in­ter­na­tional sys­tem that wor­ships “the God of money” is be­hind the rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion of young peo­ple around the world, he later said at a meet­ing with young peo­ple.

Lack of ed­u­ca­tion and job­less­ness leads young peo­ple to be se­duced and re­cruited as rad­i­cals, the pope said, ques­tion­ing why youths “who are full of ideals” al­low them­selves to be rad­i­calised.

“They leave their friends, their tribe and their coun­try,” he said. “They leave their lives be­hind in or­der to learn how to kill. This is a ques­tion which you your­selves must pose to all peo­ple in author­ity.”

The pon­tiff also spoke out against cor­rup­tion, say­ing it was present “in all ar­eas of life, in­clud­ing the Vat­i­can”.

Scrap­ping a pre­pared script, the pope ad­dressed a packed Nairobi Sta­dium with the down-to-earth and spon­ta­neous style that has en­deared him to Catholics and oth­ers around the world.

“The spirit of evil takes us to a lack of unity. It takes to trib­al­ism, cor­rup­tion and drugs. It takes us to de­struc­tion out of fa­nati­cism,” the pope said, urg­ing young peo­ple not to give in to th­ese vices.

“Let’s hold hands to­gether, let’s stand up as a sign against bad trib­al­ism,” he said.

Tribal loy­al­ties of­ten trump po­lit­i­cal al­le­giances in Kenya, some­times spark­ing violence.

Cor­rup­tion “is like sugar, sweet, we like, it’s easy,” Fran­cis said. “Please, don’t de­velop that taste for that sugar which is called cor­rup­tion.”

In Kenya, the tar­get of a spate of deadly at­tacks by Is­lamist mil­i­tants, the pope called for inter-faith di­a­logue, say­ing God’s name could never be in­voked to jus­tify violence, and urged world lead­ers to tackle cli­mate change.

Ad­dress­ing the lure of rad­i­cal groups he said that God was “much stronger than any re­cruit­ment cam­paign” , adding youths should help po­ten­tial vic­tims by bring­ing them into groups or even ask­ing them “to come and watch some foot­ball ... Don’t al­low them to re­main on their own”.

Fran­cis ar­rived in Kenya on Wed­nes­day and cel­e­brated mass on Thurs­day in front of hun­dreds of thou­sands of the faith­ful.

He also met rep­re­sen­ta­tives of other re­li­gions, stress­ing that the name of God “must never be used to jus­tify ha­tred and violence” in acts such as ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

De­spite the Catholic Church’s tra­di­tional dis­ap­proval of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, Ugan­dan gays have been hop­ing the pope would de­fend their rights in the coun­try whose tough anti- gay laws have sparked in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism.

The pope was ex­pected to raise hu­man rights is­sues, and “we ex­pect him to talk about sex­ual mi­nor­ity rights in terms of ha­rass­ment,” gay ac­tivist Moses Kim­bugwe said.

The visit to Uganda will be fol­lowed tomorrow by one to the Cen­tral African Repub­lic, the last leg of Fran­cis’s six-day African tour. – Reuters and ANA-dpa

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

SUC­CES­SION: A woman holds a pic­ture dis­play­ing all the popes to have vis­ited Uganda while wait­ing for Pope Fran­cis to ar­rive in the cap­i­tal Kam­pala, yes­ter­day.

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