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The Likely Steps Leading to Appointment of Fourth Archbishop of Kampala

Nsubuga, notes if the appointment is to take this direction, the Papal Nuncio, the Pope’s representative, opens consultation consults with various people for the names of qualified individuals. “they would be wide consultations in that matter,” Nsubuga added. “The process involves high-level confidentiality to avoid lobbying, undue pressure on those involved or those being considered, and unnecessary jealousies,” he adds.
Cathedra is the throne of the (Arch)Bishop. The ordinary of a given see is the only person who seats in it. During the requiem mass of the late Archbishop Lwanga, it remained empty despite the fact that there were several other bishops and archbishops ar

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When the Papal Nuncio announced the designated apostolic administrator for the Vacant Metropolitan See of Kampala, it was a moment of joy from the faithful. 

It took Bishop Anthony Zziwa, the chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, to explain the role of the designated administrator who will oversee the archdiocese until the appointment of Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga's successor.  

Who could be the next fourth Archbishop of Kampala and how is he elected? Uganda Radio Network looks into the process which is largely unknown, or at least largely opaque, to many people.  

A senior priest in Kampala Archdiocese says there are high chances of the Pontiff to choose among the current bishops from the suffragan (a diocesan bishop) to the Kampala Metropolitan See to take on the new role. The dioceses are; Masaka, Kiyinda-Mityana, Kasana-Luweero, and Lugazi.      

“While selecting an Archbishop, serving bishops from the suffragan Sees are considered first. This has been the practice. It has happened three times for the last four appointments of Archbishops in Kampala,” the priest noted.  

The priest first referred to the appointment of Bishop Joseph Nakabaale Kiwanuka, the first black bishop in modern Africa who was the ordinary of Masaka, to become the Archbishop of Lubaga.

A similar trend was followed when selecting the successor to Emmanuel Kiwanuka Cardinal Nsubuga when Emmanuel Wamala (later Cardinal), the then bishop of Kiyinda-Mityana was named Coadjutor Archbishop or (a bishop appointed to assist and often to succeed a diocesan bishop) and eventually took over after the former’s retirement in 1990.  

The same route was applied when Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga of Kasaana-Luweero to be the successor of Cardinal Wamala.    

The phenomenon can as well be traced outside the Kampala archdiocese. For instance, Gulu Archbishop John Baptist Odama was bishop of Nebbi before his appointment, Archbishop Emmanuel Obbo was the bishop of Soroti when he was appointed to be the Metropolitan of Tororo, among other examples.  

The priest adds that normally the age of the candidates also matters; “Those nearing the mandatory retirement age of 75 might not be considered for obvious reasons; they cannot elect someone and after a few years the process repeats,” he says.  

According to records, two previous ordinaries of the see in question have been appointed while in their 50’s save Cardinal Wamala who was appointed at the age of 61, six years after his first appointment and eventual consecration as bishop.   

Close observation in the four ecclesiastical provinces of Uganda, in the East African region and elsewhere in the world, most of the Archbishops are appointed while in their 50’s and early 60’s in few cases.

With that explanation, if the appointment is to be done from the suffragan bishops, the best candidate, by age, is Bishop Serverus Jjumba of Masaka who is currently 58 years while his counterpart in Lugazi, Bishop Christopher Kakooza, becomes the least expected for the elevation. Kakooza is left with six years to his retirement.  

“With the age factor, the bishops; Anthony Zziwa, Kiyinda-Mityana, and Pual Ssemogerere, Kasaana-Luweero, also stand a chance. They are both around 65 years of age. However, age is not the only factor that can be considered. The needs of the archdiocese among other factors are critical. Rome in most cases appoints someone who can serve the current needs of a given see,” he adds.  

However, many other sources interviewed for this story note that despite the practice of choosing among the bishops in the province, there is a possibility that the holy see might choose any other priest to take on the role.

This was the case when Cardinal Nsubuga, then Vicar General of Lubaga was named Archbishop, although there were bishops like Adrian Kivumbi Ddungu of Masaka among others.  

Archbishop Odama, says that if a priest is to be directly appointed, then there are guiding principles and qualities that one must meet before being named in any episcopal ministry. 

Odama says any candidate for the episcopacy must be at least 35 years old, have five years in the priesthood and be outstanding for his solid faith, good morals, wisdom, prudence, and human virtues, and endowed with other talents which make him fit to fulfil the office. 

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He adds that the candidate must have reasonably good health, and possess the strength needed to fulfil the tasks of the episcopacy. Besides that, Archbishop Odama adds the candidate must have a doctorate, or a pontifical licentiate degree, in Sacred Scripture, Theology, or Canon Law.  

With such qualifications, several priests within the diocese point at several senior colleagues as possible candidates. These include; Fr. Dr Pius Male Ssentumbwe, currently executive secretary of the governing commission of the archdiocese who has also been the archdiocesan chancellor.  

Others are; Msgr. Gerald Kalumba, parish priest at Christ the King, and Msgr Charles Kasibate who has been the interim administrator of the vacate see among others.  However, it is said that the search can be widened to the entire province. This means that priests from the four dioceses that make up Kampala Archdiocese who meet the requirements are also possible candidates.

“For a priest to be appointed to such offices must be meeting some of the qualifications already. However, we cannot start pinpointing to anyone as the powers of appointing the new bishop or archbishop are with the holy see,” says Fr Andrew Nsubuga, currently the director of pontifical missionary societies in the Gulu Archdiocese.   

Nsubuga, notes if the appointment is to take this direction, the Papal Nuncio, the Pope’s representative, opens consultations with various people for the names of qualified individuals.

“The process involves high-level confidentiality to avoid lobbying, undue pressure on those involved or those being considered, and unnecessary jealousies,” he adds. 

Canon Law prescribes that Papal Nuncio consults bishops of the province, the chairperson of the national bishops’ conference, other archbishops, and some members of the diocesan College of Consultors (a group of priests selected from the diocesan Priest Council). Besides, he is free to consult with others, including the laity and the religious.  

However, according to Fr John Baptist Kaganda, the national pastoral coordinator at the catholic secretariat, the list of qualified candidates might be already existing. He says that bishops regularly submit to the Apostolic See a list of candidates whom they think they can take on the episcopal responsibility. 

“According to canon law, at a given internal-usually on an annual basis- all diocesan bishops and archbishop are invited to submit the names of priests that they think would make good bishops. The list includes three candidates and it is regularly updated. To speed up the process, the already existing list might be considered,” says Fr Kaganda.  

He, however, adds that although the ordinaries send names, it is not a must that a candidate from enlisted is chosen to become the next archbishop or bishop. "All the powers are with the Pope, that must be marked," he stressed.

The Apostolic Nuncio plays a decisive role in the selection process by gathering facts and information including reasons for and against each of the recommended candidates for a vacant office before he submits it to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome. The said list is called Terna and it always comprised of three candidates.  

At this stage, the Congregation studies the candidates. “They can as well make more inquires through their means if possible,” another priest noted.     

Information obtained from the official website of the catholic diocese of Portland, USA, indicates that if the appointment involves a bishop who is being elevated to the rank of Archbishop or transferred, the matter may be handled by the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and the staff.  

“If, however, the appointment is of a priest to the episcopacy, a discussion of all bishop members of the congregation is ordinarily involved,” the document says adding that after a report on the candidates the congregation discusses the appointment and then votes and the name is forwarded to the Pontiff.  

Further reading on the process shows that while there are distinctions between the first appointment of a priest as a bishop and a bishop's promotion to the archbishop, the basic outlines of the process remain the same.  

According to Canon Law, the Pope may choose the candidate recommended by the Congregation of Bishops or make his own decision on whether to appoint someone else or order to repeat the process.     

 Several sources indicate that from the time a diocese becomes vacant until a new ordinary is appointed the process often takes six to eight months, and sometimes longer.  

Canon law also requires that if the Archbishop-Designate is already a bishop, he must take canonical possession of the see within two months of the date of appointment. However, if he is a priest, he must receive episcopal consecration within three months and must take canonical possession of the see within four months of the date of appointment.