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Eastern Africa Catholic Bishops Laud Tanzania’s Cardinal for Fostering Pastoral Solidarity

Polycarp Cardinal Pengo/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Bishops in Eastern Africa have, in a statement, acknowledged with appreciation the role Tanzania’s Polycarp Cardinal Pengo has played in fostering pastoral solidarity in the region ahead of the Church leader’s Priestly Golden Jubilee celebration.

In the Friday, June 18 statement shared with ACI Africa, the Bishops under their collective forum of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences for Eastern Africa (AMECEA) say since Cardinal Pengo became a member of the regional body, he remained “a recognized anchor of pastoral solidarity in the region, more especially when you became one of the patrons in February 1998.”

“Apart from being a loving and caring shepherd, you never missed out from Executive Board and Plenary Assembly meetings except for good reasons such as health problems,” the Catholic Bishops in Eastern Africa say in the statement signed by AMECEA Chairman, Bishop Charles Kasonde of Zambia’s Solwezi Diocese.

The Bishops recall Cardinal Pengo’s message on the occasion of AMECEA Golden Jubilee celebration in 2011 saying, “You reminded us that ‘the ever-changing cultural and political environment, both in Eastern Africa and the entire continent still call for even greater collaboration.’ You called on the church leaders in the region to be ‘committed to the goals of working together.’”

AMECEA has achieved a lot because of the Cardianl’s “generosity and commitment,” they add.

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Born in August 1944, the Archbishop emeritus of Dar-es-Salaam was ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Sumbawanga some fifty years ago, on 20 June 1971.

In January 1984, he was ordained a Bishop for Tanzania’s Nachingwea Diocese where he served for two years before he was transferred to the Diocese of Tunduru-Masasi.

Pope John Paul II appointed him Coadjutor Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam in January 1990. Two years later, he succeeded the late Laurean Cardinal Rugambwa as the Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam who retired at the age of 80.

He was elevated to the rank of Cardinal in February 1998, and participated in the 2005 and 2013 conclaves that elected Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, respectively.  

He was at the helm of Dar-es-Salaam till August 2019 when he retired. He was succeeded by Archbishop Jude Thadaeus Ruwa’ichi.

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In the message ahead of the Cardinal’s Priestly anniversary celebration, Catholic Bishops in Eastern Africa also extend their gratitude to the Cardinal for his service to the people of God in Nachingwa, Tunduru Masasi, Dar es Salaam, the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC), the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), and the Universal Church.

“May the good Lord continue to bless you in abundance and grant you good health,” the Bishops say, and pledge to “continue to look at you as our pillar.”

“Be assured of our prayers and collaboration,” they say in the statement addressed to Cardinal Pengo.

Holy Mass to mark the Cardinal’s Golden Anniversary in the Priesthood has been scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 20 at the Msimbazi grounds in the Archdiocese of Dar-es-Salaam.