Tanzanian Cardinal Gets Presidential Award on His 50th Anniversary of Priestly Service

Polycarp Cardinal Pengo of Tanzania/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

On the occasion of his Golden Jubilee of Priestly service on Sunday, June 20, Polycarp Cardinal Pengo of Tanzania was recognized by the President of the East African nation for fostering peace and unity and “relationships among different faiths.”

Cardinal Pengo was awarded a certificate of recognition by President Samia Suluhu Hassan who was represented by Tanzania’s Vice-President, Dr. Philip Mpango.

In her speech given by the Vice President during the event that took place at Msimbazi center in Tanzania’s largest city and former capital, Dar-es-Salaam, President Suluhu expressed gratitude to the Archbishop emeritus of Dar-es-Salaam Archdiocese and pledged to continue supporting the Catholic Church leader’s initiatives.

“I wish to congratulate you for commemorating 50 years of priestly services; the government recognizes your efforts towards contributing to strengthening peace, unity and love as well as relationships among different faiths. The government will continue supporting your efforts,” President Suluhu stated.

The President donated an amount of money not immediately disclosed to support Cardinal Pengo’s initiative to build a church at Makulunge area of Bagamoyo in Tanzania’s Diocese of Morogoro.


She wished Cardinal Pengo a long life and appealed to Tanzanians to continue working together toward building their nation.

On his own behalf, the Vice-President lauded Cardinal Pengo for his pastoral duties over the years, urging Tanzanians to follow God’s word, which, he said, “is usually accompanied with a lot of challenges and troubles.”  

“You have been a link between the church and the government and you have been at the front line to condemn evil acts,” Dr. Mpango said.

He called upon Tanzanias to learn from Cardinal Pengo especially in areas where tolerance and sacrificing for others is needed.  

The Vice-President encouraged the Cardinal, who will turn 77 in August, to continue offering spiritual support to the government of the East African nation saying, “My appeal to you is that you should not get tired of praying for us, especially government leaders, so that we continue to deliver.”

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Meanwhile, speaking at the June 20 anniversary event, Catholic Bishops in Tanzania acknowledged with appreciation the Priestly ministry of Cardinal Pengo over the last 50 yearsCatholic Bishops in the East African country also expressed their happiness for what Cardinal Pengo has achieved through his 50 years of service.

“Cardinal Pengo’s services all those years have immensely contributed to the development of the Episcopal Conference of Tanzania (TEC). Our operations have largely been successful thanks to his efforts,” said TEC President, Archbishop Gervas Nyaisonga.

On his part, Archbishop Jude Thaddaeus Ruwa’ichi of Der es Salaam Archdiocese described his predecessor as “a gift from God”, adding that the church was celebrating the selfless service of the Cardinal among the people of God.

“Cardinal Pengo is a person with a great mind, humble and sacrificed himself to serve God. When studying Moral Theology in Rome at the Pontifical Lateran University, Cardinal Pengo proved his brilliance by obtaining a doctorate in 1977,” said Archbishop Ruwa’ichi.

Ahead of the June 20 anniversary celebration, Catholic Bishops in Eastern Africa acknowledged with appreciation the role Cardinal Pengo has played in fostering pastoral solidarity in the region.


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

Born in August 1944, Cardinal Pengo was ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Sumbawanga 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.

He was appointed Auxiliary Archbishop of Dar es Salaam in January 1990 and in July 1992, 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.

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Archbishop Ruwa'ichi succeeded the Cardinal in August 2019 when the latter retired aged 75.

“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,” Catholic Bishops in Eastern Africa said in their June 18 statement signed by AMECEA Chairman, Bishop Charles Kasonde of Zambia's Solwezi Diocese.