Pope Francis arrives at Entebbe airport on November 27, spend a day and half before jetting off to the CAR.
Pope Francis will arrive at Entebbe airport on November 27, spend a day and half before jetting off to Central African Republic.
The Vatican has guidelines of how the pope travels but this one is unique and prefers simple standards.
As modalities are being discussed by the government and the Papal Nuncio, the Pope's representative in Uganda, over the details of the visit. Timothy Bukumunhe gives a hint of what is likely to happen.
Pope Francis is neither a movie star pitching his latest feature with an occasional red carpet stroll, nor a political leader pressing just enough flesh to connect with the electorate. He is a humble man who will roll out his job description as that of pastor - a shepherd of a 1.1 billion strong flock who are called on to see in him as the supreme Vicar of Christ.
But before he gets here, what do we know about the pope and his office? How does the Vatican machinery work when the pope has to travel abroad? What else does he pack apart from the crucifix? What are the new guidelines on the simplicity of Pope Francis?
Passport and Visa
Popes have the privilege of a Vatican diplomatic passport, which is his by right as Head of the Vatican City State. But Pope Francis refused to have one. He opted to continue using his Argentine one – which has no diplomatic privileges. Therefore, if proper immigration procedures are observed, Pope Francis will be required to have a valid visa before he can set foot into the country.
As a non-diplomatic passport holder, he cannot access the VIP lounge either, unless officials from protocol at Ministry of Foreign Affairs grant him special dispensation. Assuming a visa is granted, immigration officials will most likely issue him a visitor's single entry visa that is valid for 90 days and which will cost him $100. On the visa form, he will be required to state the reason(s) for visiting Uganda. The most appropriate answer he can give is: "Coming to preach to the masses."
The Vatican does not own a private jet for papal foreign travel. It charters one from the Italian carrier, Alitalia. Once the pope is on board an aircraft, that aircraft assumes the call sign of 'Shepherd One'. Tradition is for the Pope to fly to the country he is visiting on the Alitalia jet and to return on a jet belonging to a flag carrier of the host nation.
However, Uganda does not have a carrier. The alternative, our presidential Gulfstream jet, is unlikely because it can't accommodate the pope's entire party. He therefore arrive and leave on a Boeing 777 which will be reconfigured for the trip. The seating is hierarchical. Pope Francis sits in the front section where he has his quarters complete with a worktable, a bed and a kneeler in front of a crucifix. His 30-member entourage comes next with reporters occupying the economy area of the aircraft.
He usually boards without much fanfare - spending a few minutes posing for snapshots with the Alitalia crew. During the flight, he might go into the media section to field reporters' questions. Journalists are well treated on the plane, with plenty of room, the frequent offering of libations and small courtesies like a full-colour map of the pope's air route. The plane's headrest covers, embroidered with the papal crest, make a nice, if unofficial, souvenir.
Kissing the Tarmac
The Vatican does not hold the copyright over who can kiss the tarmac at airports. Anybody can do it; like Milton Obote did in the 80s when he landed in Bushenyi after nine years in exile.
If the pope does plant a kiss on Entebbe airport's tarmac, there will be no religious connotation to it. Rather, he will be merely expressing his love and gratitude to Uganda as a country and all who live within its borders.
The popemobile is the informal name for the specially designed cars that Pope Francis uses during outdoor public appearances. The Ford Focus that he uses has a registered number plate - SCV 00919 with the letters SCV (acronym of the Latin Status Civitatis Vaticanae - Vatican City State).
On a typical visit, the pope may fly in his popemobile or use a modified one as long as it is equipped with a special glass-enclosed room, with its own oxygen supply that has been built into the back of the vehicle. Its security features usually include bulletproof Plexiglas windows and roof that are able to withstand explosions along with reinforced, armoured side panels and undercarriage designed to resist bomb blasts.
However, with Pope Francis, this may not be. He has already asked not to be given big 4x4 SUV vehicles for his travel in the country and expressed preference for an "ordinary" car. In the Vatican, he uses a small modified Hyundai car. While on a visit to Sri Lanka, he used a modified Land Rover Defender and in Philippines, he used a modified Isuzu D-Max pickup.
During the previous papal visit in 1993, Pope John Paul II was driven to Namugongo Martyrs Shrine in an open roof Mercedes Benz car in which he sat with President Museveni. Now Pope Francis has indicated he will not sit with any other passenger in his car.
Sources in Government say Government had budgeted at least sh60b for VIP cars for the Pope's visit.
It is important that you dress up. This means a jacket, tie and polished shoes for men. For women, a nice dress or suit works best — preferably one that covers the arms and has a hemline below the knees. However, if you're going to one of the stadium masses or gathering along the popemobile route, leave your high heels at home. Casual dress is just fine.
When the pope arrives: When he walks in a room where you are, stand and applaud. The applause often varies according to the type and place of the event. In a small room, people often clap quietly but in a big venue, such as Namboole or Namugongo Shrines, the crowd would greet him with loud cheers and a thunderous ovation.
If the pope approaches you: If the pope approaches you, don't just stand there — genuflect. That means bend at the knee. However if you are being introduced, the introducer for example, would say: "Your Holiness, may I present Timothy Bukumunhe." When acknowledging the introduction, his name is never used: He is addressed in conversation as "Your Holiness."
Do I kiss the ring? Yes, if you are Catholic and if he offers his hand. If you're not, you can opt to shake his hand. The ring is a mark of the papacy and kissing it is a sign of respect and affection.
What do I tell him? Introduce yourself and tell him something about you but, let him lead the conversation and keep your answers short, direct and speak clearly while making sure he can hear you.
What happens at the end of the event? When Pope Francis gets up to leave, you should also stand up and wait for him to leave the room before turning your attention to anything else.
While he travels with dozens of trunks filled with robes, hats and shoes, one bag that the pope will personally carry is his hand luggage. He did so on a trip to Brazil. This isn't the first time that the pope has picked up his own bags. He also picked up his own luggage and paid his hotel bill in March just after he was named pope.
Pope Francis will wear a silver ring that was first worn by Pope Paul VI. He could have had one created specifically for him called "The Fisherman's Ring" or Episcopal ring that traditionally is set in gold and originally served both as a symbol of the papacy and a seal of the reigning pope, but he declined.
Pope Francis has broken with tradition and wears black shoes instead of the ancient practice of red ones which symbolize the blood of Christ and Catholic martyrs. Since the 16th century, papal shoes are handmade in red satin and embroidered in gold thread.
Food and Drink
While he is very fond of pizzas, there is a good chance that a local chef who can cook Argentine food will be assigned to cook the papal meals. He also likes Argentinean bread - the media luna and ciabatta. Other dishes he likes include rice risotto and chicken chimichurri.
However, recently his doctors warned him to eat less pasta, walk more often and lose a little weight. Pope Francis has also been known to drink wine on occasion. He is, in fact, on record as saying: "I drink a little wine from Italy and other countries from around the world. But just a little. Without wine, there's no party," therefore making him the coolest pope since Leo X.
The Pope's wardrobe depicts that of 13th century St. Francis of Assisi, who turned his back on his family's riches to live a simple life. Ditta Annibale Gammarelli, have been the papal tailors since the 18th century. Some of the robes he might wear during his visit, are;
The cassock, also known as a soutane, comes in various styles. It serves as an undergarment for vestments.
A tall folded cap with a top deeply cleft crosswise and the outline of the front and back resembling that of a pointed arch is the official headdress worn by popes and bishops as a symbol of priestly authority.
The pope wears a pallium over a chasuble when celebrating mass or on other special occasions. It is a long circular band of fabric, usually in wool around two inches wide that covers the pope's shoulders and extends down the length of his body.
A short cape-shaped garment covering the shoulders and reaching only to the elbow with an open front fastened with a row of small buttons, similar to a hood, is called a mozzetta. The pope has five versions though, in Uganda, he will most likely wear one in red satin. He has the red velvet with white ermine fringe for winter; the red serge mozzetta worn during masses for the deceased; the red clothed version worn during Lenten and Advent season; and the white damask silk trimmed with white fur paschal mozzetta.
Pope Francis will come with two of his Swiss guards as well as members of the Vatican's security forces. While here, he will travel in a 15-strong cavalcade of vehicles with elite marksmen, some on rooftops, guarding his every step. His security detail is likely to clash with our PGB as has always been the case whenever a high ranking foreign dignitary is in town.
The government will have to work with local officials and the security services and balance security whilst working with the church to secure a good experience for pilgrims.
Pope Francis is more vulnerable as he travels in the popemobile through the streets and when he is meeting and greeting the crowds. The unrestricted public turnout and the low speed of the vehicle are considered risks and unlike most VIP visitors, he cannot be kept out of sight in buildings and whisked between locations in speedy convoys.
Cellphone and Selfies
Pope Francis is sometimes called 'Cold Call Pope' for making surprise calls to people. He has also taken selfies with young followers and tweeted. However, it is most unlikely that he personally carries his cellphone and any incoming calls are thoroughly screened by aides.
Additional Information: CNN, Time, The Vatican Insider, Catholic News Service, BBC and Wikipedia
Related to the story
Uganda readies for the Pope Francis boost
Walk, Rosaries on offer in Vision fundraising for the Pope
UTL joins Vision group on Pope's visit drive
When Pope Paul VI visited Uganda in 1969
The Pope Francis you should expect in November