Pope Francis has named the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Wa Diocese, Most Reverend Richard Kuuia Baawobr, a cardinal.
The Ghanaian prelate figures in a list of senior Catholic clerics the Holy Father named in Rome on Sunday (29 May 2022) as the latest recipients of the high honour.
Aside from Most Reverend Baawobr, the Pope named 20 other new cardinals of the Church.
A cardinal is a priest or bishop who has been named by a pope to what is known as the Sacred College of Cardinals, so called because it is a body, or college, of Catholic Church officials.
Membership bestows no heightened spiritual authority, but the cardinals have as their two chief duties assisting the Pope in governing the vast Church scattered across the world and, above all, electing each new pontiff, whom they serve.
By ancient custom, cardinals are called “princes” because of the diplomatic status their position gives them, and also because in centuries past many members of the College of Cardinals belonged to the great noble families of Europe. Today, however, most come from humble origins.
In 2016 the Holy Father appointed Reverend Father Richard Kuuia Baawobr (M Afr), then Superior General of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers), as the Bishop of Wa in northern Ghana.
Most Reverend Baawobr was born on 21 June 1959 at Tom-Zendagangn, in the Diocese of Wa. He attended elementary school in the village, and continued his studies at St Francis Xavier Minor Seminary and Nandom Secondary School.
He entered the St Victor diocesan major seminary in Tamale in 1979 after his philosophical studies. In 1981 he entered the Society of Missionaries of Africa, where he continued his studies for the priesthood. From 1981 to 1982 he moved to Fribourg, Switzerland, for his novitiate.
Subsequently, he worked to completed his theological studies at the Missionary Institute London between 1982 and 1987. On 5 December 1986 he professed his religious vows at St Edward’s College, London and was ordained a priest on 18 July 1987.
Since his ordination, Most Reverend Baawobr has served in the following pastoral and academic roles:
1987-91: assistant priest in Livulu in the Archdiocese of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo;
1991-96: student of exegesis at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and of Ignatian spirituality at Le Chatelard in Lyons, in France, where he obtained a licentiate in sacred scripture and a doctorate in biblical theology;
1996-99: formator of the Missionaries of Africa in Kahangala, Tanzania;
1999-2004: director of the formation house of Toulouse, France;
2004-2010: first assistant general of the Missionaries of Africa
Since 2010 he has been the Superior General of the Missionaries of Africa (the first African to hold this position) as well as vice-chancellor of the Pontifical Institute of Arabic-Islamic Studies (PISAI).
He was elected by the Union of Superiors General to attend the ordinary assembly of the last Synod of Bishops on the Family, which took place in October 2015.
Here are the names of the new cardinals:
Arthur Roche, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (UK)
Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy (South Korea)
Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, President of the Governorate for the Vatican City State (Spain)
Jean-Marc Noël Aveline, Archbishop of Marseilles (France)
Peter Ebere Okpaleke, Bishop of Ekwulobia (Nigeria)
Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, Archbishop of Manaus (Brazil)
Filipe Neri António Sebastião do Rosário Ferrão, Archbishop of Goa (India)
Robert McElroy, Archbishop of San Diego (United States of America)
Virgilio do Carmo da Silva, Archbishop of East Timor
Oscar Cantoni, Bishop of Como (Italy)
Anthony Poola, Archbishop of Hyderabad (India)
Paulo Cezar Costa, Archbishop of Brasilia (Brazil)
Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Bishop of Wa (Ghana)
William Goh, Archbishop of Singapore
Adalberto Martínez Flores, Archbishop of Asunción (Paraguay)
Giorgio Marengo, Apostolic Prefect of Ulan Bator (Italy)
In addition to these bishops, the Pope decided to create another five cardinals who are or will be over the age of 80 by August this year, when a consistory will take place to formalise their appointments:
Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal, Archbishop Emeritus of Cartagena (Colombia)
Lucas Van Looy, Bishop Emeritus of Ghent (Belgium)
Arrigo Miglio, retired Archbishop of Cagliari (Italy)
Gianfranco Ghirlanda (SJ, Italy), former Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome
Monsignor Fortunato Frezza (Italy), canon of St Peter’s Basilica