The federal system works

February 18 - 24, 2007
SUNDAY COMMENT
Monsignor J. Wynand KatendeLink

With effect from February 2007, the Catholic Archdiocese of Kampala will be governed under a federal system. Different pastoral zones and commissions have been created and entrusted with Episcopal Vicars, who will exercise delegated powers from the Archbishop.

This arrangement will go a long way to realise the principle of subsidiarity. This principle is a call to guarantee a space for both personal and collective responsible participation, at all levels. It endows the people of God to identify local needs and solve them as locally as possible.

A higher organisation must not, therefore, claim for itself the functions which the lower organisation can perform adequately. If, in case of disability, the higher organisation takes over, then the main purpose should be to enable the lower organisation resume its role as soon as possible.

On the other hand, it is equally socially unjust if a lower organisation arrogates to itself functions that can be fulfilled for the common good only by a higher organisation. According to E.F. Schumacher, "the burden of proof lies always on those who want to deprive a lower level of its functions and thereby of its freedom and responsibility. Good governance is always government by exception. Except for exceptional cases, the subsidiary unit must be defended and upheld".

The principle of subsidiarity does not work automatically, however; it calls for a level of maturity that comes with education of people for personal responsibility and co-responsibility. Church and society must work to establish structures that encourage people's readiness and capacity to accept responsibility.

"The legacy of Catholicism's concept of subsdiarity is a loud cry for liberty, freedom of choice, voluntary association, local community and pluralism of custom and manner", comments B.V. Manno (Subsidiarity and Pluralism: A Social Philosophy Perspective).

This goes a long way to realise a self-governing, self-propagating and self-sustaining church. The doctrine of subsidiarity was introduced in the Church by Pope Pius XI (1922-1939). "If the principle of subsidiarity is applied faithfully, there will soon no longer exist a world divided into rulers and the ruled," said Pope John XXIII (1958-1963). The Catholic Church in Uganda is already enjoying success under the four federal metropolitan provinces governed by four archbishops.

As a political entity, Uganda could also offer a good case for federalism, as already agitated by some regions and an arrangement that has already proved viable in the past.
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