Upon learning of the death of Cardinal Richard Kuuia Baawobr, on Sunday, 27 November, Pope Francis expressed his condolences in a telegram addressed to the late Cardinal’s family and to all who knew him. The following is the English text of the Pope’s telegram, accompanied by a brief biography of the late Cardinal.
Having learned with sadness of the death of Cardinal Richard Kuuia Baawobr, I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family and the missionaries of Africa, as well as the clergy, religious and laity of the Diocese of Wa. Recalling with gratitude Cardinal Baawobr’s faithful witness to the Gospel marked by generous service to the Church in Ghana, especially to those most in need, I willingly join the faithful in praying that our merciful Father may grant to this wise and gentle pastor the reward of his labours and welcome him into the light and peace of heaven. To all who mourn the late Cardinal’s passing in the sure hope of the resurrection, I impart my blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in Jesus, the firstborn from the dead.
Cardinal Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Bishop of Wa, Ghana, passed away on Sunday, 27 November, in Rome’s Gemelli Hospital. He had been receiving care since he fell ill with heart problems shortly after his arrival in Rome last August for the Ordinary Consistory that created him a cardinal, a celebration he was unable to attend due to health reasons.
Within the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, Cardinal Baawobr was the first member of African descent to serve as superior general and the first in his congregation to be created elector cardinal.
Born into a Catholic family, in Tom-Zendagangn, Ghana, on 21 June 1959, Cardinal Baawobr attended Saint Francis Xavier minor seminary and then Saint Victor’s major seminary in Tamale. After completing his studies in philosophy in 1981, he joined the Missionaries of Africa and began his novitiate in Fribourg, Switzerland. He then continued his theological studies at the Missionary Institute of London where he took his Missionary Oath in 1986. He was ordained a priest in Ko, Ghana on 18 July 1987.
After obtaining his license in Sacred Scriptures at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, he served as parish vicar in Livulu, Archdiocese of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo in 1991, where he remained until 1995. He then served as formator of the Missionary Fathers in Kahangala, Tanzania, and was later appointed director of the formation house in Toulouse, France, a position he held until 2004. He obtained a doctorate in biblical theology and was appointed Superior General of his congregation in 2010. The same year, he was appointed Vice Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies.
In 2013, Cardinal Baawobr was part of the official Catholic delegation to the tenth general assembly of the Ecumencial Council of Churches, held in South Korea, and in 2015, he was one of the representatives of the Union of Superiors General elected to participate in the 14th ordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world”.
He was ordained a bishop on 7 May 2016 by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, President of the then Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Baawobr as member of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity on 4 July 2020, and on 7 October 2022, following the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium’s entry into force, he confirmed his membership to the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
Cardinal Baawobr was elected President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar ( secam ) during its 19th plenary assembly, held from 25 July to 1 August 2022,
He was created cardinal in absentia on 27 August 2022 and received the Title of S. Maria Immacolata di Lourdes a Boccea.