Pope Appeals for Prayers for African Cardinal Absent at Consistory Due to "heart problem"

Richard Kuuia Cardinal Baawobr, speaking at the conclusion Mass of their 19th Plenary Assembly at the Holy Spirit Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Accra on 31 July 2022. Credit: ACI Africa

Pope Francis has appealed for prayers for Ghanaian Cardinal, Richard Kuuia Baawobr who missed the August 27 Consistory due to what the Holy Father termed "a heart problem".

In his homily during the consistory, the Holy Father said the Local Ordinary of Ghana’s Wa Diocese had been hospitalized and appealed for prayers for his quick recovery.

“I do not want to end without recalling Cardinal Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Bishop of Wa, who yesterday, upon his arrival in Rome, felt bad and was hospitalized with a heart problem and I think they did some type of operation,” Pope Francis said at the end of his homily during the consistory.

He added, “Let us pray for this brother who ought to have been here and is hospitalized.” 

Cardinal Baawobr is one of two newly created cardinals from Africa, alongside Peter Ebere Cardinal Okpaleke of the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia (CADEK) in Nigeria. Another Ghanaian cardinal, Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, currently serves as chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.


Cardinal Baawobr who was named Cardinal on May 29 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.

The Ghanaian Cardinal also serves as a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, a post he has held since July 2020. 

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.”

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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 Bishop who has been at the helm of Wa Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in May 2016 told ACI Africa.

Cardinal Baawobr is known in Ghana 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 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 that 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 Bishop reportedly started using media platforms to create awareness about mental illnesses in a country where stigmatization of people with such challenges is high.


Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.