Pope John Paul II urged his priests Monday to promote monogamy across Africa, where the Roman Catholic Church has long fought traditions of polygamy.
On the sixth day of an eight-day trip to Benin, Uganda and Sudan, John Paul flew to the western Uganda town of Kasese beneath the Ruwenzori Mountains and near the border with Zaire.He celebrated Mass under a pavilion in a field and paid homage to refugees in the area who had fled fighting in Rwanda in the 1960s.
In his homily, John Paul urged priests to carry on the "delicate task" of promoting monogamy, a frequent message in his African travels. The church faces traditions of polygamy in societies that highly value having many children.
In an emotional highlight of the trip, John Paul visited AIDS patients in a Catholic-run Kampala hospital on Sunday and gave them his blessing.
The epidemic has hit this country worse than any other nation in Africa. One in eight people is believed infected with HIV, the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
A pavilion near the hospital houses the AIDS Widow Orphan Family Support program, run by the Rev. Steve Collins, which tries to improve the lives of women and children who have been infected by husbands and fathers.
"You counsel them: You've got AIDS, live with it," Collins said.