Richard Cardinal Baawobr, Bishop of Wa, Ghana, President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and one of the recently created cardinals in Africa who died on Sunday 27 November, 2022 at the Agostino Gemelli hospital in Rome at the age of 63, was a symbol of great hope to the Church in Africa. May God be merciful to him and may his soul rest in perfect peace.
When His Eminence was elected by the Bishops of SECAM at their assembly in Accra Ghana at the end of July 2022, even before the consistory for his installation in Rome to be President of SECAM, his acceptance injected a new dynamism into the life of the Church in Africa. The ever-smiling Cardinal immediately rallied the new executive and Standing Committee of SECAM to a meeting a mere two days after his election on July 31, 2022 to define a new course for SECAM to better address the recommendations of the immediate past executive and Standing Committee, namely unity and communion in the Church, Financial autonomy, clearly defined responsibilities and other recommendations of the Kampala Document, the pastoral letter issued by SECAM after its Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2009.
The new President of SECAM showed the direction he wanted SECAM to go, through his adoption of a synodal and inclusive style of procedure, even from the conduct of his first and only Standing committee meeting on that memorable evening. He expressed his desire to help SECAM recover lost ground in its pastoral and administrative obligations to the local churches and to help Africa participate effectively in the ongoing universal Synodal process. As it turns out, all that was not to be. SECAM will have to forge ahead without its beloved new President. I was privileged to have met Cardinal Baawobr just a few days before he passed away. Despite his frail aspect, his mood was sky high and he told me how he looked forward to getting back to work as president of SECAM. The work must go on with him on the other side but his optimistic smile will stay here for long with us. Surely, he will be praying for us from the bosom of the Lord.
On behalf of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS), I pray that God strengthen and comfort the Cardinal's mother and immediate family, SECAM, Diocese of WA and the Missionaries of Africa. He will surely be sorely missed among us.
Most Reverend Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo
Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Oyo
President of CEPACS
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Catholic Diocese of Oyo, Nigeria.