Clergy ask world leaders to heed calls by Pope Francis for increased dialogue among nations

(Last Updated On: 23 November 2022)

Dr Mohammed Bogere in a speech also lauded Pope Francis for being a portrait of ecumenism; inter religious dialogue and tolerance as hallmarks of a true man of God.

By Our Reporter

Kampala, November 23, 2022: Believers who subscribe to the Roman Catholic Church should not think they are the only ones contented and proud of Pope Francis who is, for years known as a peace builder, bridge builder and a champion of global peace.

More than 30 participants from diverse backgrounds including Muslims, Anglicans and Roman Catholics assembled at Muyenga in Kampala to celebrate the International Day for Tolerance marked on November 16, every year.

The day kicked off with watching and listening to “The Cry of Peace” session held in Rome ahead of the day, different religious leaders addressed the Muyenga congregation on different topics, like co-existence, dialogue, tolerance and acceptance, among others.

Issa Kirarira, the Secretary of Nile Dialogue Platform (NDP), an interfaith and intercultural NGO that sponsored the event, told the congregation that His Holiness Pope Francis has exhibited the highest quality of spiritual leadership by guiding the world to always look at humanity.

“…it’s only through peaceful co-existence that will make the world peaceful and happy for everyone to live in, irrespective of our race, religious creed, political inclination and others…,” Kirarira said.

Kirarira expressed his loud admiration for the sustained peaceful gestures on global issues by Pope Francis saying all other religious leaders should continue to emulate the pontiff as opposed to focusing on differences.

 Hajj Abdu Katende who formerly lectured in Makerere University’s Department of Religion and Peace Studies stressed the need for co-existence and acceptance among different religious groups.

He said peoples of all races and religious affiliations belong to One God and so it’s counter-productive to focus on divisive things or issues when there are many in common.

To put his message in perspective, Hajj Abdu Katende quoted one of the US civil rights activists, Martin Luther King Jr. who once said, “we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools”, to underscore the importance of unity in diversity.

He also went scriptural by quoting from the Holy Quran Suarh Al-Hujurat 49:11-13 which says: “O mankind, indeed we have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another…”.

This portion has a Biblical parallel in Genesis 1:26-28 where male and female are the pinnacle of God’s creation separate and unique from others to reflect God’s glory in harmony.

Dr Mohammed Bogere in a speech also lauded Pope Francis for being a portrait of ecumenism; inter religious dialogue and tolerance as hallmarks of a true man of God.

Recalling past and recent peace-laced statements and publications, Dr Bogere asked leaders and followers of different religions to serve better by following the footsteps of Pope Francis whose messages are always focused on peace for humanity.

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In one of his many books, Pope Francis writes that dialogue is born from a respectful attitude toward the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say, a statement Bogere describes as powerful and relevant in the current world.

Rev Fr. Vincent Karatugye from the Catholic Secretariat in the department of interfaith stressed the need for religious leaders to respect each other as they work together for the greater good of living in harmony with one another.

He observed that much as tolerance is a good thing, people should go beyond tolerance because tolerance alone has its limits so adding acceptance makes it long lasting.

“…in every relationship right from household level, tolerance is a journey that should take us to acceptance in the context in which we are living today even when we engage in interfaith dialogue…,” Rev Fr Karatugye said.

Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken against wars and conflicts which continue to make life difficult for many people especially the vulnerable like women, children, the elderly and PWDS.

Referencing his Fratelli tutti 261, Pope Francis said: “…every war leaves our world worse than it was before. War is a failure of politics and of humanity, a shameful capitulation, a stinging defeat before the forces of evil…” he said adding we should look at people, not ideologies and theoretical.

Fr. Karatugye who is the Executive Secretary Interreligious and Ecumenism Department of the Uganda Episcopal Conference stressed the importance of the day which helps to reawaken the world on the need of peaceful co-existence.

Sheikh Abubaker Musoke who was the chief guest, highlighted the commonalities in Abrahamic faiths (Islam, Christianity and Judaism) which outweigh the differences saying emphasis should be placed more the uniting issues.    

Musoke reminded the congregation that we are all children of one family to spread Gods’ image through love and harmony in spite of differences in creed, color and taste, among others.

Joshua Makawa the Coordinator Kampala Saint Egidio says they have opened the School of Peace in West Nile to help children in Adjumani, West Nile to help the children in Nyumanzi Refugees Resettlement Camp.

Participants pose for a group photograph after the ceremony in Muyenga Kampala.

The school was open specifically to help refugee children from South Sudan which has suffered years of conflicts to get formal primary education and to offer counseling support as well.

Christian community body of laity started in 1968 after the Second Vatican Council. It’s a brainchild of Andrea Riccardi but has since become a network of communities in more than 70 countries, Uganda inclusive.

The community’s focus is to the periphery and peripheral people, gathering men and women of all ages and conditions united by a fraternal tie through the listening of the Gospel and caring for the poor.

The key pillars are what is now known as the 3Ps: Prayer, Poor and Peace (listening to the Word of God, the Poor treated as brothers and sisters, friends and communities   and working with stakeholders to promote dialogue).

Speaking at the same event, Rev Nelly Nelsons Otto, a priest attached to St Paul Church of Uganda Mpumudde, Jinja under Busoga Diocese stressed the need for preachers and believers against reckless inflammatory statements.

Rev Otto who is also a veteran journalist used his skills to tell a folktale story from his native home of Otwal Chiefdom in Lango to drive a point.

He said there lived a very wealthy Chief known as Rwot (in Lango dialect) who had three wives. Surprisingly the wives looked skinny and miserable, a clear sign they had no peace amidst the plenty.

The Chief became concerned after noticing that the wife of a poor rope maker was healthy and happy despite living in a small grass thatched hut which served also as kitchen and bedroom.

In humility, the Chief approached the poor man who was called Koplobopol, what trick he uses to keep the wife happy in spite of their very poor status.

The man who was popularly known as Kop replied, “Meat of the Tongue” is the only meal that makes a woman healthy and happy.

The Chief who misunderstood the prescription ordered all the residents to always supply his wives with the tongue of all animals like goats, sheep and cows, etc slaughtered in the chiefdom.

After six months of the so-called special diet, there was not a single change in the three wives who continued to be miserable and gloomy, causing more confusion to the Chief.

The Chief again went back to Mr. Kop: “Why did you tell me a lie, you man….,” the Chief fumed, adding “you told me the tongue would make my wives healthy and happy but nothing has changed over months.”

The poor man who was holding his thumb piano locally known as okeme simply started playing it in front of the Chief and was joined by the wife who was preparing squirrel stew and millet food locally known as kwon kal(kalo) in a song and dance.

So the Chief finally understood that it’s not about the heavy diet represented as tongue meat but rather Meat of the Tongue—the sweet and lovely words of friendship that make the society and world wealthy.

The story summed up the message on how we should use our tongues to build peace and bridges as opposed to tearing up people even at household, community and national levels.

Others who also spoke during the function included officials from Sant Egidio Dorothy Musinguzi in charge of Muyenga and a youth-for-peace leader attached Sant Egidio Kampala Joan Mirembe and Stephen Ketende.

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