Catholic bishops of Africa meeting on Saturday (30 July 2022) in Accra, Ghana, for their 19th plenary assembly elected the Ghanaian cardinal-desig
Catholic bishops of Africa meeting on Saturday (30 July 2022) in Accra, Ghana, for their 19th plenary assembly elected the Ghanaian cardinal-designate Bishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr as the new president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).
The cardinal-designate is the current Bishop of Wa.
He takes over as SECAM president from Cardinal Philippe Ouédraogo of Burkina Faso, who has been at the helm of the organisation since July 2019.
Also elected with Bishop Baawobr are two vice-presidents, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of the Archdiocese of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Bishop Lucio Andrice Muandula of the Diocese of Xai-Xai in Mozambique.
The three SECAM officials offer a careful balance of Africa’s anglophone, francophone and lusophone countries.
Security and migration – good starting points
Following his election, the new SECAM president gave an interview to Vatican News. He said his election as SECAM president came as a total surprise.
“I was surprised that they elected me, because this is my first time participating at a SECAM meeting. At the same time, I am grateful that they have elected me. I see it as trust that they are showing in me … for now, I cannot say these are my priorities.
“It is important that we first listen to the regional episcopal conferences, and it is good that our SECAM standing committee is comprised of regional conferences.
“I also find that the theme we discussed at this plenary – ‘Ownership of SECAM: Security and Migration in Africa and the Islands’ – is a good starting point.”
Called to serve and to listen
On 29 May 2022, Pope Francis announced that he will create new cardinals for the Catholic Church at a consistory scheduled for 27 August.
Among these will be the cardinal-designate Bishop Baawobr.
Asked by Vatican News what the new appointments mean to him personally, Bishop Baawobr said the bottom line was that they are a call to serve.
“What all this means for me as cardinal-elect and president of SECAM, I think, is that both are a call to serve God through my brothers and sisters and by listening to them,” said the Ghanaian prelate.