VATICAN. Pope Francis has said his first trip to Africa was full of surprises and praised the people for having a great “sense of welcoming”. The Pontiff, who returned to the Vatican on Monday after a seven-day trip, to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, also said he was happy to have been to Uganda, singling out the country as being unique with the story of the Uganda Martyrs.
“Every nation of course has its own identity Kenya is more modern, Uganda has its identity with the Martyrs and I went to both shrines – the Anglican and Catholic,” he said while fielding questions from the journalists travelling on the Papal plane.
Pope Francis arrived in Uganda last Friday from Kenya, and was here for a three-day state visit, the climax of which he led an open air Eucharistic celebration at the Uganda Martyr’s Catholic Shrine Namugongo attended by thousands of believers last Saturday.
Pope Francis also met with catechists and teachers before another meeting with thousands of Ugandan youth at Kololo, where he challenged them to turn negatives into positives. The Pope later met bishops of Uganda, priests and seminarians and also met with Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II. The Pope had on arrival in Uganda on Friday, met privately with President Museveni at State House, Entebbe, before addressing diplomatic corps attached to Uganda and government officials.
The Pontiff left Uganda on Sunday, enroute Central African Republic, his last stop on his maiden African trip, where he says he saw desire for peace, forgiveness and reconciliation.
He said he saw a spirited will to foster peace – not hatred – and hoped the people of CAR will hold elections that can propel the nation to prosperity.
Asked whether he planned to visit Africa again anytime soon, Pope Francis responded by saying he is an old man “and these trips are heavy business.”
I will keep my rosary forever
Ashley Kente (pictured below), 9, one of the three children who received Pope Francis on his arrival in Uganda last week, says she will live to remember the special moment in her life.
“I feel good about it, it was a very exciting moment in my life,” the Primary Four pupil of Kampala Parents School, told Daily Monitor in an interview on Sunday. She said the Pontiff asked the children to pray for him, after they handed over the flower and welcomed him to Uganda.
“He (Pope Francis) said to us, thank you, and please pray for me,” she quoted the Pope as saying. He again reminded us: “please don’t forget to pray for me.”
Kente says she got a beautiful gift of a rosary from the Pope.
“It is a beautiful white rosary, I like it so much. I will keep it all my life. When I get to school, my friends will be happy to see me,” she said.
SOURCE: DAILY MONITOR