African Cardinal Hospitalized for COVID-19 Calls for “solidarity” in Tackling Pandemic

Phillip Cardinal Ouédraogo, President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), currently being treated for COVID-19.
Credit: Public Domain

The Archbishop of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, Phillip Cardinal Ouédraogo who was hospitalized at the end of last month for COVID-19 has, in his message on the occasion of Palm Sunday celebrated April 5, called for solidarity in the care for patients diagnosed with the virus that has claimed at least 82,000 lives globally.

“I would like, from the bottom of my heart as a Pastor, to launch a great cry for a profound impulse of solidarity at the local, regional and international level for those sick of COVID-19,” Cardinal Ouédraogo stated in his message on the occasion of Palm Sunday.

“There is an urgent need for adequate means to save the many human lives affected,” Cardinal Ouédraogo who is the President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and the first African Cardinal known to have tested positive for COVID-19 added.

In the Palm Sunday message to the clergy, Christians and people of goodwill, the Burkinabe Cardinal underscored the importance of collective initiatives in the fight against the virus that has infected at least 1.43 million people across the globe saying, “One finger does not pick up flour, teaches an African Proverb. Let us therefore unite to drive this dreadful scourge with its unfortunate consequences out of our country and out of the world.” 

The 75-year-old Cardinal recounted the circumstances leading to his hospitalization saying, “Beloved brothers and sisters, in the morning of Monday, March 30, 2020, I received from the doctors the positive result of my test done 48 hours before. I thus joined the countless crowds of patients confined all over the world for treatment. It doesn't just happen to others!”

The Cardinal’s Palm Sunday message titled “Message from a Cardinal sick with Coronavirus,” indicated that he was responding well to treatment and that he was feeling “privileged and well cared for.”

He is offering this time of trial and above all his daily prayer “for anyone who is ill with COVID-19 or affected by other illnesses, for an end to all killings of innocent people by the forces of evil and for reconciliation, justice and peace in Burkina Faso.”

Following news of the hospitalization of Cardinal Ouédraogo, several Catholic Church leaders known to the Burkinabe Prelate as well as people of goodwill expressed solidarity with the Burkinabe Cardinal.

In his April 5 statement availed to ACI Africa, the Prelate expressed gratitude to all saying, “I would like to thank my closest collaborators in the Archdiocese, my Presbyterium, the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina/Niger, the Nunciature, the Religious, all my Christians and people of goodwill for their very effective and affective concern for me.”

“I also express my deep gratitude to the state and private medical profession which, with self-denial and professionalism, has taken care of me,” Cardinal Ouédraogo said in his message written from his hospital bed where he is still undergoing treatment for COVID-19.

Just like the crowd came out to acclaim Christ during his Triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the Archbishop of Ouagadougou explained that “An immense crowd, near and far, of faithful, relatives, friends and acquaintances (Catholics, Muslims, Protestants and followers of the traditional religion, customary, political and administrative authorities) have manifested themselves towards me: who by telephone, who by messages, some by proposing remedies for my illness, others by organizing novenas of prayers for me.”

In the face of all these expressions of solidarity and compassion, the Prelate said, “I can only but exclaim: who am I to deserve such great and kind attention, physical, material and spiritual? Thank you to everyone and may the Lord to keep us always united to one another in such appointments of life!”

Burkina Faso has recorded 364 cases of the virus, with 18 deaths and 108 recoveries.

There are now more than over 10,000 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus across Africa with 52 countries affected.

The virus has claimed 487 lives with 993 recoveries, forcing governments in Africa to a range of prevention and containment measures against the spread of the pandemic.

According to Cardinal Ouédraogo, COVID-19 has “multifaceted health, socio-economic, cultural and spiritual consequences for all.”

Faced with these challenges, the Local Ordinary of Ouagadougou has called upon the people of God to “repeat the act of trust of the Apostle Peter in his regard: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life! "(Jn 6:68).”

“The time of Lent marked by such a pandemic situation becomes for all a time of humility, total trust and abandonment to our Master who never abandons mankind,” he said and added, “With Him we will achieve victory! Since He died and rose again and is still alive, Hallelujah! Let us remain constantly in humble and fervent prayer!”


ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]