The president of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has promised that the funds obtained for the building of the National Cathedral will be treated with the sacred trust that they deserve, with transparency and accountability.
He urges the Christian community in Ghana, Africa and abroad, to stand up to the challenge, and join in the fundraising for the construction.
Mr Akufo-Addo said these at the 19th plenary assembly of the symposium of episcopal conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), on Tuesday, 26th July 2022, on the theme “Ownership of SECAM; security and migration in africa and the islands.”
He said looking through the history of all the great cathedrals of the world, there has never been, what can be called, “an appropriate time” to build a cathedral.
Invariably, it has taken many years, sometimes centuries to complete, he added.
“The National Cathedral in Washington DC took eighty-three (83) years to complete; it took one hundred and fifty (150) years to build St Peter’s Basilica in Rome; and it took one hundred and eighty-two (182) years to finish the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Indeed, the reigning medieval monarchs of the time made significant contributions towards the construction of Notre Dame in Paris, and, in the case of the Basilica, construction began and was completed during the era of the Papacy’s greatest temporal power, again in medieval times.
“When these great Cathedrals were built, the societies that house them had not finished with the satisfaction of their major “development” needs – hospitals, schools, bridges, roads, homes needed to be built, and, I daresay, if one were to consider only those needs, there would never be a good time to build a Church, a Cathedral or any of the great buildings of faith around the world.
But, once they are built, they have proven to be instruments that brought people together, and deepened the spiritual and emotional experiences of people.
“I am fortified by the words of Holy Scripture, in Ecclesiastes chapter eleven (11), verse four (4), which says: ‘If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never sow anything and never harvest anything.’
“I am hoping that the Christian community in Ghana, Africa and abroad, will rise up to the challenge, and join in the fundraising for the construction of the National Cathedral.
I do not envisage that this project will take a century to complete like the great historical cathedrals of the world.
Technology has transformed building methods dramatically, and I am certain that, if the Christian community accepts the challenge, we shall construct this cathedral and quickly. Once completed, its value will be obvious to all.
“Three (3) years ago, on 15th April 2019, the great Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was engulfed by a big fire.
The next morning, the French President, His Excellency Emmanuel Macron, stood by the devastated monument and said, and I quote, ‘Notre Dame is our history, our literature, part of our psyche
the place of all our great events, our epidemics, our wars, our liberations, the epicentre of our lives’.
That statement sparked a dramatic response amongst the French people, for it led many French men and women, great and small, to make generous contributions towards the restoration of the great, iconic monument, which is fully on course.
“Those words struck a deep chord within me. That is what I see as the purpose of our national Cathedral.
Let us build our National Cathedral to be the epicentre of our lives, the place for our great celebrations, our thanksgiving, our funerals, the place for great moments of silence and introspection, the place that symbolises the place of faith in our national psyche.
“I give my personal undertaking that the funds raised for the building of the National Cathedral will be treated with the sacred trust that they deserve, with transparency and accountability.
Eminent Clergy, I pray that you have fruitful discussions and your conference is successful.
We look forward to hearing the results of your deliberations. And, let me, again, remind those of you who are visitors to make time to visit our beautiful country.
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“And let me, in conclusion, express great joy and gratitude to the Holy Father for the elevation of our worthy compatriot, Bishop Baaworb Richard Kuuia, and our fellow African, Bishop Peter Okpaleke, of Nigeria, to the enviable status of Cardinals of the Catholic Church. They are both to be warmly congratulated.
I had the great privilege and pleasure to be part of the Government delegation in October 2003 as then Minister for Foreign Affairs that accompanied Bishop Peter Appiah Turkson to Rome, when he was elevated by Pope John Paul II to the status of Cardinal.
It was a great eye opener for me, which I continue to cherish till today, including the companionship of Archbishop Gabriel Palmer Buckle, who was with us in Rome at the time.”