At 19th SECAM plenary assembly: No fixed time to build cathedral …President raps critics

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has defended the decision to construct a National Cathedral, saying that the government cannot provide all the development needs of the country before building a church.

Citing examples with the National Cathedral of the Washington DC, St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and the Notre Dame in Paris, he said societies that built those cathedrals at the time they were built had not finished constructing all the roads, hospitals, schools, and bridges that needed to be built.

President Akufo-Addo (fifth from right) with the clergy after the programme

 “If one were to consider only those needs, there would never be a good time to build a Church, a Cathedral or any of the great buildings of faith around the world. But, once they are built, they have proven to be instruments that brought people together, and deepened the spiritual and emotional experiences of people.

“I am fortified by the words of Holy Scripture, in Ecclesiastes chapter 11, verse four, which says: If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never sow anything and never harvest anything” he said

President Akufo-Addo said this when he addressed the 19th Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) in Accra yesterday.

Held on the theme: ‘Security and Migration in Africa and the Islands,’ the SECAM Catholic bishops deliberated on the security concerns on the continent and the role of the Catholic Church in addressing the challenge.

Among the many benefits of the National Cathedral, President Akufo-Addo said the church, when fully completed, would help “fill a missing link in the country’s spiritual architecture”

He believes the cathedral will serve as a fulcrum for propagating the Christian faith, unifying the Christian community, and serve as a tribute to religious liberty.

“But, more importantly, it will serve as our collective thanksgiving to the Almighty for the blessings. He has bestowed on our nation, sparing us the ravages of civil war that have bedevilled the histories of virtually all our neighbours, and the outbreak of mass epidemics,” he said.

Designed by the iconic Ghanaian global architect, David Adjaye, who designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture Museum in Washington DC, the National Cathedral would provide an interdenominational space for worship, and serve to insert God at the centre of the nation building efforts, he said.

On the architectural design of the building, he said the design, described as an “Architectural Expression of African Christianity,” captured the moment when Christianity became a significant force on Africa’s cultural landscape.

“The project also includes a Bible Museum of Africa, and will be the largest Bible Museum in the world, with a thematic focus on, firstly, the role of Africa and Africans in the Bible, and, secondly, the history and contemporary place of the church in Africa and the African Diaspora.”

“It will house the Bible translated into African languages, tell the story of the Church in Africa and the African Diaspora, and provide a convening platform for discussions on the role of faith in Africa’s transformation,” he said.

When completed, the President said the church would be adorned with trees, shrubs, and flowers to make it the Biblical gardens of Africa and serve as a major resource for Christians all over the African continent.

“These three initiatives – the pathbreaking design, the Bible Museum of Africa, and the Biblical gardens of Africa – will help to ensure the relevance of the project to the Church in Africa. We intend also to engage the Vatican Museum and Library to see whether it will be possible to secure artifacts that will help to make this into a major resource centre for African Christians. The Vatican has been known to provide such assistance in appropriate cases,” he said.

Touching on the controversies surrounding the funding of the project, he pointed out that although the Cathedral would be a national institution, the cost would be largely borne by the Christian community, with the state providing the land and initial funding.

He appealed to the Christian community in Ghana, Africa and abroad, to rise up to the challenge, and join in the fundraising for the construction of the National Cathedral.

“I give my personal undertaking that the funds raised for the building of the National Cathedral will be treated with the sacred trust that they deserve, with transparency and accountability,” he said.

The President of the Catholic Bishops Conference, Rev Fr Philip Naameh, Metropolitan Archbishop of Tamale, enumerated a number of challenges Ghana was facing and the role of the Catholic Church in addressing those challenges.

He also outlined some of the activities that the conference was taking to enhance the church’s presence and development in the country.


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