What you need to know:
- Aim. The visit is scheduled for July next year is to coincide with SECAM’s golden jubilee celebrations.
Kampala. African bishops under their umbrella body, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), and the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC), the assembly of Catholic leaders, have invited Pope Francis to visit Uganda again.
The visit scheduled for late July, according to official accounts and highly placed sources in the Church, will coincide with SECAM’s golden jubilee celebrations. The year-long celebrations were launched at yesterday’s mass at Rubaga Cathedral in Kampala.
SECAM was midwifed in 1969 by African bishops meeting in Kampala out of the Second Vatican Council resolution to build a structure to bring together Catholic churches on the continent.
Pope Paul VI presided over SECAM’s inauguration in 1969 in Kampala during his maiden Africa trip.
The SECAM treasurer, Archbishop Charles Gabriel Palmer Buckle of Cape Coast in Ghana, told Daily Monitor “it is only fair that Pope Francis is invited.” (See interview below).
“The Holy Father Pope John VI was the one who inaugurated SECAM, so how can we mark 50 years and we do not invite Pope Francis even though he has already been to your country (Uganda) already?” he said.
Archbishop Buckle and 20 other bishops from SECAM’s eight regional groupings were in Kampala last week to draw the golden jubilee roadmap and also kick start celebrations.
The monthly thematic celebrations will be held in all Catholic Church dioceses across the continent until July next year. The theme for this July’s celebrations was “Church-Family of God in Africa, Celebrate your Jubilee! Proclaim Jesus Christ your Savior.”
Archbishop Buckle said they will be back in Kampala from July 20 to July 29 next year for the final golden jubilee celebrations. At least 600 bishops will attend the event.
“We are still planning most activities, but when we come back here again, we hope to have put together among others, the history of the Catholic Church in Africa, a strategic pastoral development plan, as some of the key highlights for the past 50 years and to usher us into the next 50 years of evangelism,” he said.
Although the Vatican is yet to confirm Pope Francis’ second visit to Uganda, sources told Daily Monitor that the Pontiff already has a scheduled trip to Africa and it is likely a brief stop in Kampala will be added to his itinerary.
Pope Francis was in Uganda for a three-day official visit in November 2015. He was the third Pope to visit Uganda after Pope Paul VI in July 1969 and Pope John Paul II in February 1993.
Sources revealed that the Catholic bishops under UEC delivered Pope Francis’ invite last month while on a visit to the Vatican.
During mass yesterday at Rubaga Cathedral, Archbishop John Baptist Odama, who is also the UEC chairperson, described the “obligation” to organise both SECAM’s inauguration and the forthcoming golden jubilee fete as “Uganda’s honour.”