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Pope Francis leads Namugongo prayers

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Pope Francis I has called on Ugandans and the global population to embrace tolerance and reconciliation.
The Pope, who was early today leading prayers at the Namugongo Martyrs Catholic Shrine, also lauded Uganda for playing host to thousands of refugees.
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Of the refugees, the majority hail from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi and several congregants at the shrine said the Pope’s message also resonates with the mood in Uganda, coming just about two months before the presidential elections slated for February next year.
The four-hour mass also celebrated by the Kampala Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, was attended by several dignitaries led by Presidents Yoweri Museveni and his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir Mayardit. Other dignitaries included the three other Archbishops of the Catholic Church: John Baptist Odama of Gulu Archdiocese; Emmanuel Obbo of Tororo Archdiocese and John Bakyenga of Mbarara Archdiocese, and other Catholic clergymen and women.
Others were the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda Rt Rev Stanley Ntagali; Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi and his wife Nnabagereka Sylvia Nagginda and the Omukama of Bunyoro Solomon Gafabusa Iguru; presidential aspirants Col (rtd) Dr Kizza Besigye and John Patrick Amama Mbabazi and, several clergy and leaders among others.
In a surprise move, the Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi read the Second Reading of the mass, sending the congregation into wild ululations.
Security at the newly-refurbished shrine was very tight with several security operatives taking charge, led by the Commander of the Special Forces Command (SFC) Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the President’s son.
According to Police Spokesman Fred Enanga, the police also deployed heavily, with regular officers being beefed up by about 5,000 Crime Preventers.
Earlier, the Pope, who arrived for Mass at about 8am, had been to the Anglican martyr’s shrine, where he was received by Archbishop Ntagali and several other dignitaries and religious leaders.
Meanwhile, the Pope, who is in Uganda on a three-day pastoral visit will later today address a gathering of the youth at the Kololo Ceremonial Grounds, after which he will head to the Nalukolongo House of Charity.
He will later meet the Catholic Archbishops and Bishops at the Kampala Archbishop’s home, after which he will meet priests, the Catholic laity and other religious leaders at Rubaga Cathedral.
Pope Francis I, who is accompanied by dozens of Cardinals and other Catholic clergy, is on a weeklong pastoral visit to Africa and has so far visited Kenya. He departs for the Central African Republic tomorrow.
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