Accra, Ghana – Richard Kuuia Cardinal Baawobr, the new Ghanaian Cardinal who missed the August 27 Consistory due to a heart complication is “doing well and in high spirits”, the Director of Communications of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) has told ACI Africa.
On the day of the Consistory, August 27, Pope Francis appealed for prayers for Cardinal Baawobr who was absent from the Papal session during which the Holy Father created 20 new Cardinals for the Universal Church.
In a Tuesday, August 30 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Dieu-Donne Kofi Davor provided health updates of the Local Ordinary of Ghana’s Wa Diocese and appealed for prayers for his full recovery.
Cardinal Baawobr “is doing well from the update I got from Rome; he is said to be in high spirits and spoke with the President of the Conference on phone,” Fr. Davor said in reference to a phone conversation between the new Cardinal and the head of GCBC, Archbishop Phillip Naameh.
The Ghanaian Catholic Priest recalled the health situation of the 63-year-old member of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) before traveling to Rome for the Consistory, saying he “hasn’t been well and I am sure the fatigue got the best of him.”
Cardinal Baawobr who has been at the helm of Wa Diocese since May 2016 was named Cardinal on May 29 alongside 20 others from across the globe, including Peter Ebere Cardinal Okpaleke of the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia (CADEK) in Nigeria.
Cardinal Baawobr was elected President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) on July 30 at the end of the 19th Plenary Assembly of SECAM in Ghana’s capital city, Accra.
Before he was appointed Bishop in February 2016, the Catholic Church leader had served as First Assistant General of the Superior General of the Missionaries of Africa for a period of a six-year term; in May 2010, he was elected the first African Superior General of the Catholic Congregation that was founded in 1868.
Since July 2020, the Ghanaian Cardinal has been a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
In the August 30 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Davor said the people of God in Ghana are “waiting patiently” for the Cardinal’s return to the West African country from Rome.
“His earlier plan was to have his thanksgiving Mass on the 24th of September but I am sure this will change,” the Director of Communications of the GCBC said.
Fr. Davor further expressed appreciation to the people of God for their prayers, saying, “I want to thank all for your concern and prayers for the speedy recovery of Cardinal Baawobr.”
“Continue your prayers for him and all other prelates who are indisposed,” he told ACI Africa, and promised to provide further updates about the new Ghanaian Cardinal “as soon as he is discharged from the hospital.”
In a July 28 interview with ACI Africa, Cardinal Baawobr reflected on his mission as Cardinal, saying, “It is an occasion to renew our commitment to serve and to serve in collaboration with the Holy Father.”
“It comes down very strongly that we are not alone in this mission. And the Holy Father is inviting us to share, to collaborate with him,” he said, and added, “I think from there also I draw the message that wherever we are if people are needing our collaboration in order to attain a specific goal, we should offer that with joy and humility and simplicity.”
He continued, “I always think of the two sons of Zebedee who are struggling for the seats, one on the left and one on the right. At that moment Jesus reminds them that their greatness is in service, that he has come to serve. So, I think each one of us, wherever we are, we are called to serve, and that is what will make us great, not the title.”
Being named a Cardinal, he emphasized, is “an opportunity to continue that service in that capacity.”
“I’ll be ready to do what I can to offer my collaboration to the Holy Father in the mission of the Church, wherever he wants me to serve,” the Catholic Church leader told ACI Africa on July 28.
The Ghanian Cardinal is known in his native West African nation and beyond for many acts of charity, key among them, his love for people suffering from mental challenges and who have been neglected by their respective families.
In 2016, the year that the Holy Father appointed him Bishop, volunteers at the Bishop’s project that takes care of people with mental illnesses started going on the streets looking for patients and providing them with care.
The project involves Parishes, faith-based organizations, women, and men Religious and the lay faithful also brought on board doctors and nurses who started providing free medication.
The new Cardinal reportedly started using media platforms to create awareness about mental illnesses in a country where the stigmatization of people with such challenges is high.