Sunday February 19 2012

Church leaders deserve respect

By Samuel Baligidde

In the ‘Corridors of Power’ in the New Vision published on February 17, 2012, Archbishop Lwanga is said to have amused the Rubaga Cathedral Congregation when he said that while in Algeria a security officer saluted him on learning he is a Vatican Minister. Cardinals, archbishops and bishops have a high protocol ranking universally because their Leader, His Holiness the Pope, is the Head of State of the Vatican.

I was on the same flight as His Eminence Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala to Rome in 1990. I introduced myself to him as a Uganda diplomat in transit to Tripoli, Libya at the Transit Lounge in Brussels.

As we prepared to clear Immigration on arrival at Fiumicino Airport, Vatican Protocol and Airport Security whisked him through the VIP Gate as a Policeman executed a pristine salute. He promised to call the Embassy on my behalf as he was driven away in a Limousine accompanied by police motorcycle-outriders, sirens blaring! The mores of Protocol, such as mastery of detail in management of ceremony, are inherited from Vatican traditions.

The Vatican has, like any sovereign state, a professional diplomatic service and runs an academy for training clergy for deployment in its Apostolic Nunciatures (Embassies) abroad. Archbishop Kasujja, for example, worked as a Vatican Diplomat and served in Latin America before being posted to Algeria as Archbishop.

For centuries, in Southern Europe, Latin America and up until Idi Amin decreed against it in Uganda in the seventies, the Apostolic Nuncio, who is usually an Archbishop, used and in some countries is still, the Dean or Doyen les Corps Diplomatique; a clear signal that Vatican Ministers, like His Grace Archbishop Cyprian Kizito-Lwanga, deserve respect and a salute.

According to Grotius who is universally acknowledged as one of the founders of International Law, God’s Law and Natural Law embody the command of God. Ideas about divinity, authority and law had a major influence on the early development of International Law.

The Vatican contributes towards promoting justice and continues to play a significant role in promoting and advocating for human rights which together with concern for environmental degradation have become major areas of state and international diplomatic activity. Chapter V of the Vatican Council II specifically explains the nature of peace and advocates for the avoidance of war, among others. It concludes with a passionate call for dialogue between all men; Aren’t all these worthy of a salute?

Mr Samuel Baligidde is director; school of diplomacy, UMU-Nkozi.