death of Cardinal Richard Baawobr, president of SECAM

« It is with great sadness that we inform you of the return to the Heavenly Father of our confrere, Cardinal Richard Baawobr », announced in a press release, Sunday, November 27, André-Léon Simonart, secretary general of the Society of Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers).

Bishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr, 63, Bishop of Wa in northwestern Ghana, was absent from the August 27 consistory where he was created a cardinal. He was hospitalized for a heart attack which occurred on his arrival in Rome, the day before the event.

Remained since then in Italy for treatment, he died on Sunday, November 27, in the early evening. « Transferred by ambulance from the general house to the Gemelli hospital at 5.45 p.m., we received the sad news of his death at 6.25 p.m., says the press release from his congregation. Our prayers and our thoughts also go out to his family, to his diocese, to his fellow bishops, to all his friends and acquaintances.”.

First African elected Superior of the White Fathers

Born June 21, 1959, Richard Baaworb joined the Society of Missionaries of Africa in 1981 and completed his novitiate in Fribourg. He then studied theology at the London Missionary Institute from 1982 to 1987, then biblical exegesis. He held a licentiate in Holy Scripture and a doctorate in theology, with a specialization in biblical theology.

He took the missionary oath on December 5, 1986 at Saint Edward College in London and was ordained a priest in Ghana on July 18, 1987. He was then successively assistant to the parish priest of Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, trainer of the missionaries of Africa in Kanhangala in Tanzania (1996-1999), then director of formation at the Chamber of Missionaries of Africa, in Toulouse, France.

In 2003 he published his doctoral thesis in Holy Scripture. It was the Bible that was at the heart of Father Baawobr’s commitment. He saw in a better understanding of the Bible the antidote against the sects which proliferate on the black continent.

Bishop of Wa since 2016, Bishop Baawobr was the first African elected superior of the Society of Missionaries of Africa (the White Fathers) in 2010. That year, he became the 14th Superior General of the White Fathers (2010-2016 ). « The time has come to take Africa seriously », he said then. He promoted the singularity of the White Fathers: “We offer young people a life in community, international and inter-ethnic, without discrimination. Cultural change of scenery is part of our charism. »

chosen to serve

Ordained bishop in May 2016, he was appointed, in July 2020, member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

On July 30, 2022 in Accra, the Ghanaian cardinal was elected president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), under the terms of the elections for the renewal of the permanent committee. He thus became the first Ghanaian to be elected to this post since the creation of SECAM in 1969. For Bishop Baawobr, this election was “a call to serve God through my brothers and sisters as cardinal and president of SECAM”.

After his election, he gave himself as a priority, at the head of this institution, security and migration in Africa, the two challenges at the heart of this Plenary Assembly.

After the death of Cardinal Baawobr, the Sacred College now has 225 members, including 126 electors, aged under 80. 50 are Europeans (including 18 Italians), 21 come from Asia and 16 from Africa. 16 are from North America, 14 from South America and 6 from Central America. The Sacred College also has 3 Oceanian cardinal electors. According to a count prepared by The cross24 have been or are currently members of the Roman Curia.

Of these 126 voters, 81 were created cardinals by Francis, 34 by Benedict XVI and 11 by John Paul II. Four French people could take part in the conclave if it took place today: Cardinals Dominique Mamberti, Philippe Barbarin, Jean-Pierre Ricard and Jean-Marc Aveline.


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