Last Sunday, Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, the Archbishop Kampala Archdiocese, unveiled eight eminent Ugandans appointed by Pope Francis as Knights and Dames due to their contribution to the Catholic Church.
The knights include Emmanuel Katongole the Chairman Quality Chemicals Industries Limited, Joseph Yiga, the managing director Steel and Tube Industries, Dr Saturanius Kasozi Mulindwa, the Chairman Rubaga Foundation, Anthony Mateega, the vice president Uganda National Catholic Council of Laity Apostolates and Prof Peter Kasenene, a parishioner of Mbuya Parish.
The dames include Regina Yiga, from Munyonyo Parish, Mary Nansubuga and Thereza Mbire of Kansanga Parish. The eight join the ranks of Dr Joseph Sseremba, Dr Joseph William Kiwanuka, Margaret Ntegge, Aloysius Mukiibi, Joseph Mubiru and FX Lubanga the former Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education and Sports.
According to Anthony Nnaakirya Mateega the Vice President of Uganda National Catholic Council of Lay Apostolates, the Papal knighting in Uganda started in 1914.
The first Ugandan to be knighted was Stanislus Mugwanya Bogere, a Buganda Kingdom regent. Ambassador Bernadette Olowo, Uganda’s former Ambassador to the Vatican, was the first Ugandan woman to be appointed a Dame in 1970.
While unveiling the eight on Sunday, Archbishop Lwanga said the Pope usually appoints dames and knights in recognition of the special work they have accorded the Church. He stressed that this is one of the most prestigious positions in the Catholic church.
“If you have been appointed while working with the Church, you become a Monsignor, the people who are not working in the church, become a dame or knight,” he said.
What do they do?
According to Mateega, the appointment which comes directly from the Pope, is an initiative of a particular diocese because each diocese is autonomous. He says this is a public expression of gratitude by the church in honour of the service the person has rendered the Church.
Amb Bernadette Olowo says there is no monetary gain that comes with the appointment only prestige and recognition. She said whenever a Pope visits Uganda, they become the bodyguards. They handle his protocol.
“The Pope recognises you for the good job you have done for the Church. For me I was appointed a dame because the Pope said he usually appoints whoever is appointed as ambassador to the Vatican,” she said.
Asked whether they have the privilege to meet the Pope as and when they wish, she says it is not automatic because even the archbishop who is closer to the Pope, has to apply through the Papal Apostolic Nuncio to seek an appointment.
“If we have something specific we want from the Pope, we have to apply through the apostolic Popal Nuncio to schedule our meeting and if he is to meet us, it has to be on a day when he is meeting other people,” she said.
According to Archbishop Lwanga, the new appointees will be given their special uniform and the regalia on Easter Sunday.
The Pope usually appoints dames and knights in recognition of the special work they have accorded the Church. Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, stressed that this is prestigious position “If you have been appointed while working with the Church, you become a Monsignor, the people who are not working in the church, become a dame or knight,” he said.