Apostolic Nuncio encourages peace and unity

Papal Nuncio Luigi Bianco waters a tree. Photo/Promise Twinamukye.

What you need to know:

  • The John Paul II Vatican Foundation award was established by the John Paul II Vatican Foundation to recognise religious organisations that emulated and have kept the good works of Pope John Paul  II alive. It is awarded by the appointed jury committee.

The Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda, His Excellency Luigi Bianco  has called upon Ugandans to always promote peace and unity to co-exist.

Speaking at the official reception of the maiden St John Paul II  award which Nsambya-based John Paul II Justice and Peace Centre (JPIIJPC) won in February, Bianco said the world will be a better place  if people prioritise peace and unity.

“We need humility and humanity for us to be complete in our Christian faith. We need to embrace peace and bring it to everyone so that they live a life full of aspirations,” he said.

He added that the only way people will lead a great life and emulate the great work done by Pope John Paul II is to ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and this is impossible without peace and unity.

The John Paul II Vatican Foundation award was established by the John Paul II Vatican Foundation to recognise religious organisations that emulated and have kept the good works of Pope John Paul  II alive. It is awarded by the appointed jury committee .

The JPIIJPC won the first edition of the award which according  to Fr Leonard Olobo, the centre’s chairman of board of directors, recognises their achievement in spreading Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and providing concrete assistance to people in need.

The award, he added, is also in recognition of their fruitful collaboration with the seven religious congregations. These congregations which align with mission of the church include  Missionaries of Africa, Holy Cross Missionaries, Comboni Missionaries, Comboni Missionary Sisters, Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, Society of Jesus, and Mill Hill Missionaries.

“Winning the maiden edition of the St John Paul II award was a surprise. We did not know that our humble work here in Uganda would earn such recognition at the global scene. It was a moment of joy and humility that our local work to transform the structures that deny some section of the society to live a dignified life has been recognised,” Fr Olobo who attended the award gala at Sala Regia del Palazzo Apostololico, in Vatican City on May 22, said during his speech recently.

“This maiden award overshadows the challenges we face in our work and re-affirmed the dedication and hard work put in by the founders, staff, volunteers, and partners of the centre towards the promotion of social justice in Uganda. It is a dream come true,” he added. The centre was established in 2006, a time Fr Olobo said, northern Uganda were emerging from two decades of war, where they suffered several attrocities  and lacked access to basic services.

“The pathetic condition in the country, compelled us, a group of religious congregations Comboni Missionaries, Holy Cross Missionaries, Mill Hill Missionaries, Missionaries of Africa, and the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) to intervene collectively in the social, economic, and political life of Ugandans by establishing an institution dedicated to action against injustice of different ramifications. Thus, our Motto “Faith Doing Justice,” he said.

Their work is anchored on economic, political, social, and environmental justice. 

“We promote human rights and good governance, peacebuilding, and environmental conservation. With regard to human rights and good governance, the centre is involved in: enhancing respect for human rights; combating trafficking in persons and modern slavery; promoting democratic practices and citizen participation in decision making and political processes, and promoting girl-child education,” he explained.

The highs
He noted that they have registered some milestones including influencing policies, reducing vulnerabilities among victims of trafficking, improving access to social services in critical sectors of education and health in refugee settlements, promoting rights of disadvantaged groups in communities, promoting civic responsibilities, contributing to environmental conservation, among others.

Speaking at the same event, Mr Alfred Avuni, the director of the JPIIJPC, said they wanted the good works of Pope John Paul II in social justice to live on at the time when the World was lamenting  about his demise.

“Generally, Uganda was experiencing wanton violation of human rights, rising economic inequalities, extreme poverty, and violence in families and communities, among others. In peace building, we promote peace in families and communities and empower refugees and host communities for peaceful co-existence,”Mr Avuni shared.

He  added that they  also promote integrity of creation (ecology) through community action against environmental degradation and climate change.