UGANDA (ACN News): The rector of northern Uganda’s major seminary has revealed that seminaries in the country have been hit badly by the country’s severe economic crisis and rampant inflation.
Monsignor Cosmas Alule, rector of Alokolum Major Seminary, reported that financial woes in Uganda have caused serious problems for the institution.
Speaking during a visit to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need’s international headquarters in Königstein, Germany, he said the economic situation was also affecting other seminaries in the east African country.
Increasing fuel prices have pushed up the cost of food, with maize, beans, sugar and other staple foods quadrupling in price over the past year.
“We can hardly meet the costs of our basic needs, despite the fact that we grow rice, beans, maize and vegetables in our gardens in order to reduce our food costs,” Msgr Alule said.
Since August 2010, the rate of inflation has risen from 1.7 per cent to about 19 per cent.
The rector said the problem was much worse than in the neighbouring countries of Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania.
He said the causes of the economic crisis in Uganda – alongside the global economic crisis – were widespread drought and the costly parliamentary election campaign last February.
“The Government has spent money irresponsibly for political purposes, instead of looking after the wellbeing of the people,” Msgr Alule told ACN.
Alokolum seminary – based in a region plagued for 20 years by the civil war between the Ugandan Government and the rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army – has had to stop all building activities, as materials have become increasingly expensive.
But further building is essential, as the number of priestly vocations has continued to rise and the seminary has a severe shortage of space.
At Alokolum, 209 students are expected this new academic year – 26 more than the previous year.
The number of seminarians has increased in Uganda’s other seminaries.
Last year 1130 young men were preparing for the priesthood in the country’s five seminaries.
Despite the high number of vocations, there is a shortage of priests in many parts of the country, as 45 per cent of Uganda’s population of 33 million are Catholic.
Aid to the Church in Need is committed to supporting the seminary’s work, and provides Mass stipends to help support priests teaching there.