President Akufo-Addo has stated emphatically that the controversial National Cathedral will be “built to the Glory of God”.
The President addressing Catholic faithful at a ceremony to climax the 125th anniversary of the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra at the Black Star Square, in a joyful mood and quoting from Philippians 4:13 (KJV), which states “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”, said he is firm in his view that “by the Grace of God and through Christ who strengths me and my government, all the programmes and policies being rolled out which were once described as overly ambitious and not feasible by some, whether it is the free Senior High School, Planting For Food and Jobs, One District One Factory, One Village, One Dam, and the development of Rail and Road Infrastructure, amongst others will be implemented for the benefit of the Ghanaian people. And through Christ who strengths us, the National Cathedral will be built to the Glory and Honour of God, Amen”.
Opposition to Building of National Cathedral
Since the President announced the commitment of his government to partner the Christian community in the country to build a National Cathedral on the 6th of March 2017, there has been several opposing views to the idea from some Christians, Civil Society, other Religious groupings and Political Parties in the country. Indeed, a former youth leader of the Convention Peoples Party, James Kwabena Bomfeh, has instituted an Action at the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionally of the plan of government to support the construction of a Cathedral in Ghana. The Supreme Court is expected to deliver its judgement on same on the 16th of January 2019.
Government Remains Committed
President Akufo Addo in his address reiterated the commitment of his administration to serve the country and to Improve the living standards of the Ghanaian people. The President solicited the support of the Catholic Church in Ghana and the entire Christian community to back his administration and its policies in order to achieve the development that the country so desires.
“I took a solemn oath at this same venue, to serve the country and to Improve the living standards of the Ghanaian people. I shall with God’s guidance continue to do my best to live up to my oath of office” the President said. “Towards the achievement of this goal, government will need the support of this Church and indeed of the entire Christian community as well as all religious people and of all those who believe in the one true God” the President added.
In his sermon, the Archbishop of Cape Coast and Apostolic Administrator of Accra, Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, preaching under the theme: “Celebrating 125 years of Catholic Mission in Accra; Renewing Our Commitment to Evangelism” called on the congregation to embrace once again the evangelistic assignment given to the Church by Christ and to make it their preoccupation to win souls for God.
The Catholic Church in Accra
The Catholic Church in Accra began with the first Holy Mass on the soil of Accra on January 31, 1893, by Rev. Father Otto Hilberer and Eugene Raes, two priests of the Society of African Missions (SMA) who were sent from the Elmina Mission that had started in 1880.
In the same 1893, the first Catholic Baptism in Accra took place of Mr. Louis James Buckle on May 25, and the first Holy Matrimony was celebrated between Herbert Cheetam and Rose Mary Quaye on August 12, 1894.
However, in 1895, the Accra Catholic Mission had to be closed down for Frs. Hilberer and Raes to return to Elmina to take up priestly duty there as a result of the successive deaths of their SMA confreres in that Mission due to tropical illnesses of malaria and yellow fever. The Catholic community of Accra was, therefore, left in the care of a Church committee led by Messrs Andoh, Brown and Yankah.
It was only in 1924 that Rev. Fr. Joseph Stauffer SMA was posted to Accra, and he purchased an old cocoa shed situated on the Derby Avenue, which he later refurbished and turned into a chapel that was dedicated in 1925 as the Sacred Heart Church (of today), the premier Church and parish of Accra. The SMA Fathers ministered to the growing Catholic community here until 1939 when they handed over the then Eastern Province of the Gold Coast colony to the Society of the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD). Rev. Fr. Adoph A. Noser SVD became the first Superior of the Accra Mission.
In 1947, Fr. Noser was appointed the first Bishop of Accra, and on February 08, 1953, he laid the cornerstone of this magnificent Holy Spirit Cathedral. In the same year, Bishop Noser was transferred to Papua New Guinea to be the Archbishop of Alexishaven. He was succeeded as Bishop of Accra by Rev. Fr. Joseph Oliver Bowers SVD, JCL., an African-Caribbean from the Commonwealth of Dominica, who became the first black bishop of the Gold Coast.