As he welcomed to Uganda the delegates at the 18th Plenary Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of the Republic of Uganda has urged the Church leaders in Africa to pay attention to both the spiritual and social welfare of their people. He said this as the Church leaders and delegates gathered for the opening Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Lubaga in Kampala, on July 21, 2019.
“I am very happy, on behalf of the people of Uganda, to be here to welcome you all the bishops from Africa who belong to this organization known us SECAM. I congratulate you on the 50 years of SECAM. You last came here when I was a 3rd year in the University. In those 50 years, a lot of things have happened and it is good that you remembered to come here to celebrate the 50th anniversary. Thank you for honouring Uganda,” he said.
President Museveni started by highlighting the achievements of the Church in Africa.
“Now your Eminences, your graces, and Your Lordships, you are all Africans and you are all bishops of Africa. I am very glad that spiritually Africa is doing much better than other continents. The other continents are in deep spiritual crisis and I do not have to go to the details. When somebody can get to a situation where he cannot tell a man from a woman, then you know there is a very serious situation there”.
He then pointed out the need for the Church in Africa to become a force to integral human development by promoting the social and economic welfare of their people.
“In welfare, Africans are still lagging behind. And this welfare is the welfare of your parishioners, of your people whom you lead spiritually and whom some of us lead in temporal matters,” he said adding that “Now that is where there is a challenge for the Africans, the leaders: spiritual and temporal.”
“The problem you find in the families, many of whom are our parishioners, is that they are stuck in two ways: point number one, they still leave in subsistence farming. They all work for the stomach; they do not know how to work for the stomach and for money, yet modern life needs money. Secondly, when they try to work for both the stomach and money, they do so without evaluating the economics of what they are doing. That’s why, therefore, we hear that the size of African economy, all of it, is about 10 times smaller than the economy of the US yet our population is now four times the size of the population of the US.”
With these words, President Museveni has urged the African Church leaders who are gathered at Munyonyo Speke Resort and Conference Centre this week under the theme Church - Family of God in Africa, Celebrate your Jubilee! Proclaim Jesus Christ your Saviour to address the issue of low economic productivity as well.
He emphasized how little the African families are consuming by citing that few families in Africa have a pair of bed sheets in reserve and that the average consumption of milk per person is still below the 210 litres per annum as per World Health Organization recommendation for a person to live normal live and develop strong bones and teeth.
“I think this affects the Church as well as Government. Since the systems are not giving enough, Christians also give little to the Church. I normally go to the Church and I see what they bring during the offerings. You know the situation. So, therefore, I thought I should use this occasion.”
President Museveni went on to cite the Book of Genesis to emphasize that God gave human being two missions whereby one was is to multiply and feel the earth. “On that one, the Africans are doing very well, I have no complaints there,” he said, alluding to population growth and the size of an African family today.
“It is on the second mission, ‘Establish dominion over nature.’ This means that because we are superior over other creatures, we are created in God’s image, we should use science and knowledge to tame and harness nature for man’s needs; to control the floods; to control diseases. This is part of establishing dominion over nature.”
Connecting this mission to the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30, he asked the African leaders to challenge their Christians to use the talents that God has given them.
“With these few words, I want to welcome your Eminences, your Graces, and your Lordships and I thank all the Christians here for coming to welcome our visitors. Thank You and may the Lord bless you.”