GHANA: Cardinal Ambongo Succeeds Late Cardinal Baawobr as SECAM President

By Arnold Neliba

ACCRA, FEBRUARY 21, 2023 (CISA)-Members of the Standing Committee of The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) have confirmed Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo Besungu OFMCap, the immediate former first Vice-president of SECAM as the new President.

Following resolutions made at the end of the February 14 to 17 extraordinary meeting in Accra, the archbishop of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Kinshasa replaces Richard Kuuia Cardinal Baawobr who died on November 27, 2022, at the age of 63.

“Observing the provisions of Articles 12 and 13 of chapter IV of the SECAM By-Laws, we, the members of the Standing Committee of SECAM confirmed the immediate past SECAM Vice-President, Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, for the position of President of SECAM, replacing the late Richard Cardinal Baa Wobr,” reads the statement signed by Cardinal Ambongo.

Following the shake-up, Rt Rev Lucio Andrice Muandula, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Xai-Xai, Mozambique, was moved from the position of Second Vice-President to the position of the First Vice-President and Rt Rev Stephen Dami Mamza, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Yola, Nigeria, elected as the Second Vice- President of SECAM and confirmed Rt Rev Gabriel Edoe Kumordji, SVD, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Keta-Akatsi, Ghana, as treasurer.

In the meeting, the members of the SECAM standing committee also studied and approved the SECAM Strategic Plan for the year 2022 to 2025.

While commenting on priorities following the appointment, Cardinal Ambongo said his priority as SECAM president is to steer the finalization of the ongoing synodal process.

“We are now in the continental phase of the celebration of the Synod on Synodality. From March 1 we will all be in Addis Ababa for the celebration of this phase. For the rest, it is all the work of pastoral evangelization in depth in Africa but also all the problems linked to poverty in Africa, to injustice, to the immigration of our young people who abandon the continent to go for what they believe to be paradise and very often it ends in tragedy. All of this brings us back to our responsibility as the Church of Africa,” he stated.

SECAM was born from the will of the African bishops at the time of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), they wanted to establish a forum to speak with a single voice on issues relating to the Church in Africa and Madagascar. According to information on their website, SECAM is thus the episcopal, continental structure of the Church Family of God in Africa, which counts 505 dioceses grouped in 38 national or inter-territorial episcopal conferences and counts nearly 250 million Catholic faithful.

SECAM was launched on July 31, 1969, during the visit of His Holiness Pope Paul VI to Kampala, Uganda. The secretariat of SECAM is in Accra, Ghana, and a special office is established in Nairobi, Kenya, for the translation of the Bible into African languages and its distribution in Africa and Madagascar.