Head Of Catholic Church In Africa, Ghana's Cardinal Baawobr Is Dead

Cardinal Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Bishop of the Upper West regional capital, Wa, has been reported dead.

Reports by multiple media outlets say the 63-year-old Cardinal died on Sunday, 27 November 2022.

“Our confrere was taken by ambulance from the Generalate to the Gemelli Hospital at 5.45pm and we received the sad news at 6.25pm,” an official communication said.

In the middle of this month, the clergyman who is officially head of the Roman Catholic Church in Africa was discharged from Agostino Gemelli University Hospital/Policlinic.

He had been transferred to the facility for medical care on Saturday, 15th October 2022.

According to the Daily Graphic, Pope Francis called for prayers for the late Cardinal on August 27, after it came to his notice that Baawobr had been taken ill upon his arrival in Rome on official duties.

Nominated Cardinal, elected head of Africa branch

Months after his elevation to the position of a cardinal by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, the bishop of Wa, His Eminence Richard Kuuia Baawobr, was elected head of the Roman Catholic Church in Africa.

His election came at the end of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, SECAM, which took place in Accra.

By his election, the cardinal-in-waiting became the highest-ranking member of the Roman Catholic faith on the continent. According to SECAM, it is the first time in its history that a Ghanaian has been elected leader.

He took over leadership of the association of Catholic Bishops of Africa, Madagascar, and the Islands, from His Eminence Philippe Cardinal Ouédraogo from Burkina Faso.

Established in 1969 in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, during a visit by Pope Paul VI, the primary aim of the body was to allow Bishops to speak with a common voice on matters affecting the Church in Africa.

Appointment as Cardinal

In late May 2022, the Most Reverend Richard Kuuia Baawobr was appointed a Cardinal by the leader of the church, Pope Francis.

Bishop Baawobr was among 21 bishops who will be enlisted into the Consistory of the church come August 16, 2022, by the Pope.

Known in Ghana and across Africa for his charity works, Bishop Baawobr is a member of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa who has distinguished himself as having immense love for persons suffering from mental health challenges and individuals abandoned by their families.

He was born on June 21, 1959, in Tom-Zendagangn, Ko in the Nandon District of Ghana’s Wa Diocese and had his primary education at Tom-Zendagangn from 1965 to 1972. He continued at the St. Francis Xavier Minor Seminary in Wa from 1971 to 1977.

He had his secondary education at the Nandom Secondary School. In 1979, he went to St. Victor’s Major Seminary at Tamale as a Diocesan Seminarian.

He joined the Society of Missionaries of Africa (M.Afr.) in 1981 after his Philosophical Studies. Bishop Baawobr is one of the only two Africans out of the 21 bishops who will be appointed cardinals by the Pope on August 16.

This new position will make him a member of the Catholic Church Council which among other things is responsible for electing a new Pope upon the retirement or demise of a current pope.

He follows the footsteps of Former Archbishop of Tamale, Cardinal Peter Dery and Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson as the third Ghanaian to be appointed a Cardinal of the Catholic Church.