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Museveni Applauds Religious Leaders on Unity, Reiterate Call for Focus on Wealth Creation

Uganda Martyrs Celebration

By Agency

President Yoweri Museveni has praised Ugandan clerics, Christian and non-Christians, for fostering unity and ending hostilities along faith lines that once sharply divided the nation.

Reflecting on the pre-NRM era, President Museveni highlighted significant divisions based on tribal and religious affiliations, which he credits the NRM ideology for mitigating.

He acknowledged the establishment of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda as pivotal in promoting dialogue and harmony among different faith communities.

President Museveni made these remarks while addressing tens of thousands gathered for the Martyrs’ Day celebration at the Namugongo Catholic Shrines.

President Museveni,(R) Mama Maria Nyerere (M) and Mama Janet Museveni (L)

He recognized the religious leaders, including those from the Catholic Church, for adopting the NRM ideology, knowingly or unknowingly. He emphasized that the NRM has long championed unity and fought against divisions and sectarianism in Uganda.

He noted that to prevent such divisions from infiltrating the army, they discontinued the army chaplaincy to maintain the institution’s ideological focus on unity.

Museveni also could shy away from mentioning that upon learning of the catholic Church’s 60th anniversary of the martyrs’ canonization, he didn’t want to miss it and so he told his dear wife, Janet Museveni, to join him in attending this important and historical event.

In his speech, President Museveni reminded the faithful that his government declared Martyrs’ Day a public holiday in their first year of leadership after capturing power in 1986.

He added that before this change, the faithful observed the day on the weekend following June 3rd President Museveni also recounted the numerous celebrations he has attended over the years. He mentioned his continued participation in these events, joining Ugandans and visitors from other countries in paying homage to the glorified martyrs.

Clergies at The Celebration

Meanwhile, the President reiterated his message to religious leaders, urging them to preach beyond faith and ensure that, while they cater to the souls of the faithful, they also address their physical well-being by promoting hard work and development.

This is the message that he has over the past years been emphasizing whenever he meets religious leaders. during this specific address, he couldn’t resist drawing examples from the Bible and quoted words from Pope Francis, who, in one of his addresses, questioned whether people are working hard to lift themselves out of poverty.

The President also criticized the youth for spending too much time supporting European football instead of engaging in developmental matters. He noted that he would elaborate on this issue during the upcoming national address in Parliament. Using the same platform, Museveni also criticized Western countries for promoting homosexuality, reminding them that Uganda, as the land of martyrs, rejects such practices.

This statement was met with applause from the audience, indicating their agreement with his stance. Before the President began his speech, large numbers of pilgrims started to leave after the Mass concluded with the final blessing. This created some commotion, prompting security to manage the situation by closing all the exits.

“No one is leaving until the President has finished,” a security officer told the pilgrims. This action created calm in the crowd which decided to stay back and listen to the president’s speech. Before the President’s address, the prelates, including Archbishop Paul Ssemogerere and Bishop Antony Zziwa, thanked him for the support provided for the development of the Martyrs’ Shrine.

However, much like Oliver Twist, they noted that Namugongo is still under development and requires further government support. This year, unlike in many others, all the bishops, both serving and retired, of the conference attended in person.

The event also attracted bishops from South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as officials from the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).

On his part, the Chairperson of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, Bishop Zziwa noted that the 60th anniversary of the martyrs comes amid moral and spiritual challenges, such as idolatry in the form of worshipping money and material wealth, corruption, sexual immorality, sorcery, and enmity, among other vices.

He challenged the faithful to look at the examples of the martyrs and bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit, including love, kindness, and gentleness. “There is a need to be guided by the truth, and the truth will set you free from all the current challenges we live with,” he added.

Commenting on this matter, President Museveni highlighted corruption as a significant issue, acknowledging that it is harming the nation. He noted that this topic would be further addressed in his upcoming State of the Nation Address.

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