Apostolic Nunciature hosts 400 guests to mark Ruby Jubilee
By Damian Avevor
Apostolic Nuncio in Ghana, Most Rev. Jean Marie Speich recently hosted 400 Guests including Bishops, Priests, and Religious, lay faithful, Religious and Traditional Leaders, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Government functionaries, to a reception at the Apostolic Nunciature.
The reception was one of the major highlights organized by the Nuncio to mark the 40th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Ghana and the Holy See.
Present was His Eminence Giuseppe Cardinal Bertello, President of the Governorate of the Vatican City State and President of the Pontifical commission for the Vatican City State, who was in Ghana as Pope Francis’ Special Envoy to Ghana for the 40th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Ghana and the Holy See; the 60th anniversary of Ghana’s Independence on March 6 and to presided over the re-consecration of Ghana to the Sacred Heart of Jesus at an Ecumenical and interfaith Prayer Session at the Holy Spirit Cathedral on March 4.
Former President Jerry John Rawlings, whose time as Head of State that cardinal Bertello served as the third Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana, was a Special Guest at the function with Mr. Samuel Kofi Dzamesi, Minister for Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, representing President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo.
Also present were the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Dr. Nuhu Osman Sharabutu, Papal Knights and Dames, led by their President Sir Peter Fosuaba Mensah Banahene.
Mr. Samuel Kofi Dzamesi, who led the government delegation the reception, extended the government’s warmest congratulations to the Apostolic Nunciature for organising the event to mark the significant milestone in bilateral relations.
He stated that, the Holy See had been one of Ghana’s oldest partners in development, saying that the long standing relations between Ghana and the Catholic Church date back to the arrival of the first Roman Catholic Missionaries on the shores of the then Gold Coast, to propagate and the subsequent establishment of the Apostolic Prefecture of the Gold Coast in 1879.
“As we commemorate 40 years of our diplomatic relations and the benefits of the carefully nurtured relations over the years, we hope to do more to deepen the relationship to the mutual benefit of our citizens and the people of faith,” he added.
The Minister recalled the visit to Ghana by St. Pope John Paul II in May 1980, to celebrate the centenary of Catholicism in Ghana, as a true testament of deepening bonds of friendship and strong Episcopal relations with the Papacy.
He stated that the strength of these relations was again demonstrated in the elevation of Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson as a Cardinal in 2013 and his subsequent appointment as the first Prefect of the newly created Dicastery for Integral Human development in 2016 to oversee the Roma Curia and his continuous service on the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace since 2009.
He said the appointment of Most Rev. Gabriel Anokye, Archbishop of Kumasi as the President of caritas Africa, affirmed the Church’s interest in and love for Ghana.
He applauded the many reforms including transparency, religious tolerance and other initiatives aimed at alleviating the plight of the poor and the vulnerable in Society, which in turn had lifted the image of the Holy See in recent times.
Archbishop Jean Marie Speich, Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana outlined some works done by the Catholic Church as member of the Ghana Conference of Religions for Peace and member of the National Peace Council particularly in mediating the Nyonyas and Alavanyos communities, and in the Northern Region, the Kukumbas and Namumbas.
The Nuncio commended the initiatives of the Satellite Peace-Building Center in Tamale and of the Centre for Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies in Damongo and urged the other Embassies in Ghana to also encourage and help in that effort.
He added: “we can say that the Catholic Church in Ghana is connatural to this society. She is a wonderful part of it and a bridge builder trying to overcome human weaknesses, useless and unhealthy differences in the utopia of contributing to building up a society which is expressed in the Ghanaian motto, more just and free.”
In his speech to the Diplomatic Corps in January this year, His Holiness Pope Francis spoke about peace-keeping by promoting justice, intercultural and interreligious Dialogue, a “culture of Mercy”.
He said like Ghana’s motto: Freedom and Justice, the Pope had given his appreciation for the Ghanaian peacekeepers all over the world.
The Nuncio noted that “after 31 years at the service of three different Popes: Saint John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis, and after serving in many countries and for many local Churches, I am able to deliver you the secret of the Pontifical Diplomacy given by the Cardinal Secretary of State, His Eminence Pietro Parolin, few days ago.”
He said: “The Pontifical Diplomacy pulls its strength above all from the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. She wants to favor relations of justice and harmony between nations, by means of instruments appropriate to the international law and at the light of her specific spiritual mission.
The action of the Holy See is mainly oriented towards the construction of peace and promotion of the total human development, in the respect for the dignity of every human being and for its fundamental rights, the first one of them is the exercise of the freedom of religion”.
He stressed that Ghana, through some of the most competent of its citizens is participating in Rome and elsewhere to the promotion of these values.
The Nuncio was joined by Cardinal Bertello, former President Rawlings and Mr. Dzamesi to cut the 40th anniversary cake.