A Ghanaian Bishop known for his love for people suffering from mental illness in the West African country has been recognized by the Holy Father who has appointed him to the position of member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) in one of the latest Papal appointments.
In the July 4 appointment, Pope Francis named Bishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr of Wa alongside four other Catholic Prelates to support in coordinating and strengthening relationships with other Christian denominations and Ecclesial communities.
These include the Archbishop of Newark in the U.S., Joseph William Cardinal Tobin; Bishop Mario Grech, emeritus of Gozo and Pro-Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops; Bishop Paulo Cezar Costa of São Carlos; and Bishop Paul Rouhana, Auxiliary of Joubbé, Sarba and Jounieh of the Maronites.
The Holy Father also appointed as Consulters of the same Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Archbishop Giacomo Morandi who is Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Archbishop Giorgio Demetrio Gallaro, Bishop Emeritus of Piana degli Albanesi and Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
Bishop Baawobr, a member of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, is known in Ghana and beyond for many acts of charity, key among them, his love for people suffering from mental challenges and who have been neglected by their families.
In 2016, the year that the Holy Father appointed him Bishop, volunteers at the Bishop’s project that takes care of people with mental illnesses started going on the streets looking for patients and providing them with care.
The project that involves parishes, faith-based organizations, Religious women and men and the lay faithful also brought on board doctors and nurses who started providing free medication. The Bishop reportedly started using media platforms to create awareness about mental illnesses in a country where stigmatization of people with such challenges is high.
Born on June 21, 1959 in Tom-Zendagangn, Ko in the Nandon District of Ghana’s Wa Diocese, he had his Primary education at Tom-Zendagangn from 1965 to 1972 and continued at the St. Francis Xavier Minor Seminary in Wa from 1971 to 1977. He had his Secondary Education at the Nandom Secondary School.
In 1979, he went to St. Victor’s Major Seminary at Tamale as a Diocesan Seminarian. Feeling God’s call to be a Missionary, he joined the Society of Missionaries of Africa (M.Afr.) in 1981 after his Philosophical Studies.
In his new appointment as PCPCU member, the Ghanaian Prelate will exercise a “double role”, according to the Holy See Press Office.
First, PCPCU is entrusted with the promotion, within the Catholic Church, of an authentic ecumenical spirit according to the Conciliar Decree Unitatis Redintegratio. For this purpose, an Ecumenical Directory was published in 1967-1970 and a revised edition issued in 1993 titled Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism.
PCPCU is also active in all areas that can contribute to promoting Christian unity by strengthening relationships with other Christian denominations and Ecclesial Communities.
The Vatican-based entity organizes and oversees dialogue and collaboration with the other Churches and World Communions.
Since its creation, PCPCU has also cooperated closely with the World Council of Churches (WCC) based in Geneva. From 1968, Catholic theologians have been full members of the “Faith and Order” Commission, the theological department of the WCC.
Similarly, it is the task of PCPCU to name Catholic observers at various ecumenical gatherings and in turn to invite observers or ‘fraternal delegates’ of other Churches or Ecclesial Communities to major events of the Catholic Church.