Visit of His Excellency
Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes
(Translated from L'Osservatore Romano, October 25, 2002)
A few days after the beatification of two young Ugandan martyrs, Daudi Okelo and Jildo Irwa, the President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" departed for Uganda. The purpose of his visit is to draw attention, both within and outside the Church, to this country afflicted with AIDS. In February of 2001, "Cor Unum" sent a gift from the Holy Father in the amount of Â500,000 to fund projects of Catholic NGOs and the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Theresa of Calcutta.
Children are at the heart of this visit. In Uganda, 50% of them have at least one parent who has died of AIDS. The majority of these children are at risk of being left to the streets and turning their hands to petty crimes.
The priorities of this funding initiative of "Cor Unum" are as follows: to give a family to orphans; education through construction and support of schools; health education for the prevention of AIDS; professional formation, especially for young people from juvenile prison; foundation of a house for terminally ill children due to AIDS under the care of the Missionaries of Mother Theresa of Calcutta.
This work is enlarged and can now assist more than 1,000 children. The project is inserted into the program to battle AIDS at the national level with respect to the parameters of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Catholic organizations, for a long time, have been engaged on this front. Uganda has become a "laboratory-country" in the war against AIDS and is one of the few nations where there has been a decrease in the number of cases reported, from 9.51% to 8.3%. These results must not be the end point, but rather the beginning of a renewed interest in an increase of assistance projects.
On October 25th, Archbishop Cordes, while in Kampala, visited the "Cowa", a center for the professional formation of young people released from the juvenile prison. The following days he will be received by the Missionaries of Mother Theresa, where a house for 60 terminally ill children suffering from AIDS will be inaugurated. He will next visit an orphanage, "Nsambya Babies Home", and the professional school for orphans of parents lost to AIDS, under the care of Cowa. On Sunday, October 27th, he will preside over the Kampala Diocesan Festival. On the 28th, he will travel to North Uganda, to Gulu, where the Church is involved in reestablishing conditions for peace. For the past 15 years, this region near the border of Rwanda has been threatened by a bloody war.
Tuesday, October 29th, is dedicated to a meeting with the Episcopal Conference of Uganda and Caritas Uganda. Wednesday, October 30th, he will visit the sanctuary of Namugongo, where the Ugandan Martyr-Saints were killed.