Dr. Janet Smith: Addressing Homosexuality in Uganda

Last summer, when Fr. Alex Mugalaasi from Uganda invited me to visit to speak in five seminaries, each with 250 seminarians and about 20 priest faculty, I jumped at the proposal. And, oh, am I happy that I did! It was clearly an opportunity of a lifetime and a divine appointment.
The Church in Uganda is strong and needs to stay strong; it is under powerful attack from Western influence which wants it to ditch “traditional values” and embrace the LGBTQ+ agenda of the West.

I was hoping I could make a contribution by alerting them to the dangers they face from the West and also by deepening their understanding of these key matters—while urging that they develop a compassionate response to individuals who identify as LGBTQ+. Kevin Wells, a regular Crisis columnist, joined me to speak on “The Priests the Church Needs Now,” the title of one of his important and influential books. (Kevin, too, will be reporting on his trip to Uganda, which he extended with a trip to Tanzania.)

Fr. Alex is a friend of a friend: he has had a long-term relationship with a family in Omaha who years ago offered him accommodations and assistance when he came to the U.S. to study and ran into some difficulties. A most winsome person, Fr. Alex became so integrated into the family that he is considered a member of the family.

Spending three weeks with Fr. Alex, who is 38 years old and a deeply devout and faithful priest with phenomenal vision and energy who lives to serve, was possibly the highlight of a trip filled with highlights. It was also a true delight and a great help to have Kevin along; Kevin has a marvelously extroverted personality. He joined any group—priests, seminarians, guards, small children, store clerks, you name it—and engaged them in lively conversation. Both of us felt like rock stars—we were mobbed by children who had never seen white people up close—they expected chalk to rub off our skin! An excellent journalist and compiler of stories, in our many dinners with priests Kevin always had a worthy follow-up question that helped us understand better the Ugandan culture.

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