Catholics Blame Church for Ignoring the Needy, Vulnerable

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The faithful pointed out that although the Church is known for helping those in need, it is apparent that the poor, persons with disabilities, the widowed, and the sick have been neglected in recent years as a portion of Church officials and Clergy hobnob with the wealthy and might congregants.
An Outside View Of Rubaga Cathedral a great symbol of the 54 year old Kampala Archdiocese

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Catholic faithful in Kampala Archdiocese have expressed worry about the unfair treatment of needy and vulnerable groups by both Clergy and other leaders within the Church.

The faithful pointed out that although the Church is known for helping those in need, it is apparent that the poor, persons with disabilities, the widowed, and the sick have been neglected in recent years as a portion of Church officials and Clergy hobnob with the wealthy and might congregants.

This was one of the issues that were raised by the faithful during the consultations that started in March as part of a two-year global Synod process declared by Pope Francis.

“The marginalized like the poor, needy, single mothers, not officially married are not listened to… Some priests in some Parishes want to move with only the rich people. The poor are not heard. The (Church) elders listen to the rich,” one of the submissions read.

Agnes Nakubulwa, a resident of Lubaga, observes that the impoverished are currently mistreated in full view of the public and believes that this is a major issue that has to be addressed.

“I believe that everyone is equal in the eyes of God, but go into that Church on any Sunday and you'll see. Rich people are given well-decorated chairs when they attend. Priests only interact with the same group after mass and don't offer the poor any attention,” Nakubulwa, who also sells sacramentals at the Church, told our reporter.        

As Nakubulwa points out, the view from the consultation has also shown that certain Parishes prefer to go solely with the wealthy, while others don't want to evangelize in remote areas for a similar reason. The report also mentions that some people who consider themselves wealthy have marked churches that only they attend to avoid mixing with the supposedly impoverished.      

The faithful didn't spare the Archbishop, claiming that despite his role as a shepherd, those perceived to be poor or of low class appear to be barred from speaking with him. "Christians should have the opportunity to speak with the Archbishop without interference. A Bishop is a shepherd sent out to the flock, but not just for the wealthy,” they noted.      

Ivan Aloysius Kalanzi, the head of the laity of Kampala Archdiocese says that the views as shared are true and heavily hurt the faithful as those considered rich are given priority even when they are not deserving. Kalanzi referred to cases where the poor who are not wedded in the Church are not accorded Requiem Mass while bodies of the rich in the same situation are even taken in the Church.     

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He hastens to add that sometimes the neglect of the poor is misconceived. For instance, in his view, the matter of who sits where in the church cannot be put in lenses of ignoring the poor given the fact that there is a protocol that is occasionally followed.    

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The Catholic Faithful are insisting that seats in the Church should be on a first come first serve basis, because, rich or not rich, man is equal in the eyes of God. They added that in order to correct such issues, there must be justice in the Church by not listening only to those who have money and positions in the Church and the country.       

In the same development, Catholics also wondered why the Church is making it almost impossible for them to get social services from its institutions like hospitals and schools. For instance, the faithful pointed out that the schools, which in many cases are established through contributions to the Church, are expensive and unaffordable for the same parishioners.

“Reduce the fees of our Church schools, this will help all Christians to take their children to their religious schools and build a cohesive Church of tomorrow. Now parents are looking for low-cost schools and even if they are Muslim, those children are going to get lost without walking with their peers,” the faithful noted.     

To ensure that the Church fulfils its mission of charity and caring for the needy, the faithful say that exorbitant fees in Catholic schools’ schools and hospitals should be reduced and concessions and bursaries should be given to the poor.        

High fees charged on sacraments also puzzled the faithful saying that at times this has been deterring a section of Catholics from obtaining them. “Sacrament fees are high and not uniform in every parish…Reduce the fees and make them the same everywhere so that they are not decided by the parish priest,” the report recommended.        

The people also called upon the Church to change its view on illegally married couples, children born out of wedlock, and parents of children who have left the religion.      

On this front, the faithful recommend that to create unity and move together as people of God, the Church should allow Masses in the homes of active Catholics even if they are not married but also pointed out the need to conduct more research on why many people are not getting married in Church.    

While commenting on the report that was recently handed over to him, Archbishop Paul Ssemogerere said that the finding is critical because it's coming at the start of his administration in the Archdiocese. Ssemogerere added he is going to critically study the issues and recommendations pointed out by the people to guide his administration moving forward.       

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Pope Francis called for this two-year global process as part of a Synod of Bishops which participants hope will help radically change the way the Catholic Church takes decisions. The gathering, scheduled to take place in 2023 in Rome, is to deliberate on the Synodality in the Church.     

According to instructions from the Vatican, every diocesan bishop is intended to gather input from local parishes, lay movements, religious institutions, schools, colleges, ecumenical communities, and other groups.        

After the diocesan level, Bishops are expected to compile the data into a 10-page report for submission to the Uganda Episcopal Conference, which brings together the views of Catholics across the country, before filing a report to the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), which is responsible for reporting to the Vatican a summary of the continent's efforts.          

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