The outspoken Priest of Kitanga Parish in the Kabale Diocese Rev. Fr. Gaetano Batanyenda has trashed Minister of Internal Affairs Gen. Kahinda Otafiire’s statement in which he said that Poor people would not go to heaven.
Otafiire made this statement last week while addressing a cross-section of local leaders and residents at Manafwa district headquarters that poor people were a liability to God and the Government.
“I am neither a pastor nor a reverend, but I can assure you that the poor will never step in heaven. They are always grumbling against God and when they appear before Him, they complain why God denied them earthly possessions,” Otafiire said.
“It’s very difficult to administer poor people,” Kahinda said, arguing that while the rich could afford everything, the poor easily succumbed to temptation to sin in their quest for what they did not have.
However, Fr. Gaetano who is also the Chairperson of the Interreligious Council of Uganda – I.R.C.U, Kigezi Region has described Otafiire’s words as “reckless” and “blasphemous”
“I would like to remind Minister Kahinda Otafiire that it’s Government thieves who will go to hell, not the poor,” said Fr. Gaetano
Referring to quotations from the Biblical story of Lazarus and the rich man as written in Chapter 16 of the gospel according to St. Luke, Fr. Gaetano told Otafiire that “majority of the rich people’s destination is hell,” while the poor may have their place secured in heaven, as explained by Prophet Abraham in Luke 16:25.
The priest also referred Otafiire to Mathew 19:24, where Jesus Christ told his disciples that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Fr. Gaetano further said that Otafiire’s words were a mockery to Ugandans who had been reduced to poverty by a corrupt regime.
“Who has made Ugandans poor? Isn’t it the corruption in the NRM Government where Otafiire is a top official? He should actually apologize to both God and Ugandans for his reckless and blasphemous statements,” Fr. Gaetano asked.
When this reporter reached out to Otafiire for a comment via telephone, he said he would get back to him tomorrow.
In the first half of 2021, the Finance Ministry reported that 28 per cent of Ugandans were living in poverty, while 39 per cent were still in the subsistence economy (earning from hand to mouth).
A 2018 report by Charity organization Oxfam International indicated that in Uganda, the rich had grown richer while the poor grew poorer in the last two decades, despite the overall economic growth.
Oxfam International reported that 10 per cent of the richest people in Uganda enjoyed over one third (37.5 per cent) of the National income, while the poorest 10 percent Ugandans claimed a meagre 2.5 per cent.
When Uganda’s richest 10 percent earned 2.3 times more than its poorest 40 per cent in 2009, any concerned person would be curious to understand what drives such a discrepancy and how best to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich. The contributors to such a big gap are mainly land, education, health, assets holding and many others. Among these factors, land stands out as the lead driver of inequality in Uganda.
The report further indicated that the portion of income held by the 10 per cent poorest Ugandans was declining at the same rate as that at which the income held by the 10 per cent richest Ugandans was increasing.