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Ivorian Cardinal Cautions Politicians against Internal Disputes, Urges Reconciliation

Jean Pierre Cardinal Kutwa during the Thanksgiving Mass to mark his 50th anniversary in the Priesthood at St. Paul’s Cathedral of Abidjan Archdiocese. Credit: CECCI

The Cardinal in Ivory Coast has, on the occasion of his 50th anniversary in the Priesthood, cautioned politicians in the West African nation against internal quarrels and instead become part of initiatives toward national reconciliation.

Addressing members of the ruling party and the opposition who participated in the thanksgiving Eucharistic celebration Saturday, July 17, Jean Pierre Cardinal Kutwa said, “Don't waste time in useless disputes, which only leads to destruction.”

“The time is right for reconciliation, the time is right for peace, the time is right for all the sons and daughters of Ivory Coast to come together,” the Local Ordinary of Abidjan added.

Still addressing himself to political actors in the West African nation, the Ivorian Cardinal said, “When I see you sitting, members of the government of Ivory Coast, when I see the men of the opposition in the person of President Laurent Gbagbo, I say thank you and great thanks to the Lord! Why? Because you are not enemies, but political opponents.”

“You are each looking for the well-being of the country,” he further told politicians in Ivory Coast during Holy Mass to celebrate his Golden Jubilee of Priesthood at St. Paul’s Cathedral of Abidjan Archdiocese.

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“Oh Lord, I present them all to you, pour into their hearts, touch their hearts so that true love for the country is born in them and that all work for the integral development of the country,” Cardinal Kutwa who has been at the helm of Abidjan Archdiocese since June 2006 implored.

The 75-year-old Cardinal was ordained a Priest for Abidjan Archdiocese on 11 July 1971.

He was appointed Archbishop of Ivory Coast’s Gagnoa Archdiocese in 2001. While there, he represented Ivory Coast in the 2005 Synod of Bishops.

Much of his time in Gagnoa was marked by the First Ivorian Civil War, which split the country largely along a North-South line.

He was transferred to the Archdiocese of Abidjan in May 2006, a year before the war ended.

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When a second civil war broke out in Ivory Coast in 2011 following a disputed election, the Local Ordinary of Abidjan reportedly focused his efforts on interreligious dialogue and reconciliation.

He was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 22 February 2014.

Remembering his ordination to the Priesthood 50 years ago, Cardinal Kutwa thanked the Lord for “all the painful moments that have marked the major stages of my life and my priestly ministry.”

Some the memorable incidents include a road accident a month before his diaconate in December 1970, a second road accident that left him with a few scratches on the day of Priestly ordination, and a third road accident on 7 July 1997, which left him in a coma.

“I will always sing the wonders of the Lord because on 7 July (1997) I was counted as dead but the Lord did not want to, he raised me up and I made my way to this day when I give thanks for my 50 years (since I was ordained a Priest),” Cardinal Kutwa said during the July 17 event.

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