Thursday January 21 2016

Embrace Museveni, Besigye handshake for unity - bishop

Archbishop John Baptist Odama (L) hands a gift to Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda

Archbishop John Baptist Odama (L) hands a gift to Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda at the Catholic Secretariat in Kampala on Tuesday. Looking on is Msgr John Baptist Kauta, the secretary general of the Uganda Episcopal Conference. PHOTO BY RACHEL MABALA 


Kampala- It was a dine and wine affair at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat offices in Nsambya, Kampala, on Tuesday as the Uganda Episcopal Conference held a thanksgiving and get-together for all committees that played a crucial role in organising the Pope’s visit last year.

The chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, Archbishop John Baptist Odama, told the organising committee members that the pontiff had written to him a letter expressing his gratitude to the people of Uganda for their warm welcome.

“We gather here to celebrate the successful Pope’s visit. Like he said in his own words, it was a great job,’ said Archbishop Odama.
“The visit of the Pope has made us Ugandans proud and we must keep this pride all the time and same with our unity and hard work,” he said.
He also appreciated other faiths, the army, police and local authorities, particularly KCCA whose executive director Jenifer Musisi was present.
Archbishop Odama said the handshake between President Museveni and his rival, Dr Kizza Besigye, was the most remarkable moment during the Pope Francis’s three-day visit in November last year.
“The shaking of hands of two political leaders after many years was a sign that the Pope’s visit knew no political and tribal differences and Ugandans share a form of oneness that needs awakening,” the Gulu Archbishop said. Museveni and Dr Besigye for the first time in 15 years shook hands shortly after Pope Francis said an open air Mass at Namugongo on November 28.

At Tuesday’s function, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, who was the chief guest, said the Pontiff’s pastoral visit put “Uganda on the map.” “Memorable things took place. The Holy Father ignited national cohesion. We were used to the presidential candidates hitting at each other but it was not common warmth for the handshaking at Namugongo,” said Dr Rugunda, also a member of the organising committee.

He said the handshake was a sign of unity which should continue, adding that the country had no choice but to follow the Holy Father despite the small differences.