Looking through history of all great cathedrals, there has never been an appropriate time to build a cathedral- Akufo-Addo

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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said that the National Cathedral, when completed, would provide an interdenominational space for worship, and will serve to insert God at the centre of the nation building efforts.

He also said it provide an official venue of worship for state occasions in a nation that is predominantly Christian, that is a nation where more than seventy percent (70%) of the people are self-confessed Christians.

Mr Akufo-Addo said these at the 19th plenary assembly of the symposium of episcopal conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), on Tuesday, 26th July 2022, on the theme “Ownership of SECAM; security and migration in africa and the islands.”

He told the gathering that “We have embarked on the construction of a National Cathedral, which we hope would fill a missing link in the nation’s spiritual architecture, by providing a formal space for the religious activities of the state. Designed by the iconic Ghanaian global architect, David Adjaye, who designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture Museum in Washington DC, capital of the United States of America, our National Cathedral would provide an interdenominational space for worship, and will serve to insert God at the centre of our nation building efforts, providing an official venue of worship for state occasions in a nation that is predominantly Christian, that is a nation where more than seventy percent (70%) of the people are self-confessed Christians.

“It will also serve as a fulcrum for propagating the Christian faith, unifying the Christian community, and serve as a tribute to religious liberty. But, more importantly, it will serve as our collective thanksgiving to the Almighty for the blessings He has bestowed on our nation, sparing us the ravages of civil war that have bedevilled the histories of virtually all our neighbours, and the outbreak of mass epidemics.

“Just as the building of the Temple of Solomon was an epoch-making event not only in Israel, but also in the whole world, we believe the building of the National Cathedral is an epochal event not only in Ghana, but also in the rest of Africa. Thus, although the National Cathedral was envisaged for Ghana, we have included elements to make it relevant to the African church.

“The Design, described as an “Architectural Expression of African Christianity,” captures the moment when Christianity became a significant force on Africa’s cultural landscape. David Adjaye, whose current major work, the construction of the Abrahamic House in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is scheduled to be commissioned by His Holiness Pope Francis by the end of this year, says the Ghana National Cathedral is being developed as a ‘Home for African Christianity,’.”

He further explained that the project also includes a Bible Museum of Africa, and will be the largest Bible Museum in the world, with a thematic focus on, firstly, the role of Africa and Africans in the Bible, and, secondly, the history and contemporary place of the church in Africa and the African Diaspora.

“It will house the Bible translated into African languages, tell the story of the Church in Africa and the African Diaspora, and provide a convening platform for discussions on the role of faith in Africa’s transformation.

“There will also be the Biblical Gardens of Africa, which will include the trees, shrubs and flowers of the Bible, and serve as a major resource for Christians all over the African continent.

“These three initiatives – the pathbreaking design, the Bible Museum of Africa, and the Biblical gardens of Africa – will help to ensure the relevance of the project to the Church in Africa. We intend also to engage the Vatican Museum and Library to see whether it will be possible to secure artifacts that will help to make this into a major resource centre for African Christians. The Vatican has been known to provide such assistance in appropriate cases.  

“The project has run into some controversy currently about the funding. My personal view has always been that, even though the Cathedral will be very much a national institution, the cost should be largely borne by the Christian community, with the state providing the land and initial funding to get the project off the ground.”

“Looking through the history of all the great cathedrals of the world,” Mr Akufo-Addo said, “there has never been, what can be called, ‘an appropriate time’ to build a cathedral. Invariably, it has taken many years, sometimes centuries to complete.

“The National Cathedral in Washington DC took eighty-three (83) years to complete; it took one hundred and fifty (150) years to build St Peter’s Basilica in Rome; and it took one hundred and eighty-two (182) years to finish the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Indeed, the reigning medieval monarchs of the time made significant contributions towards the construction of Notre Dame in Paris, and, in the case of the Basilica, construction began and was completed during the era of the Papacy’s greatest temporal power, again in medieval times.

“When these great Cathedrals were built, the societies that house them had not finished with the satisfaction of their major “development” needs – hospitals, schools, bridges, roads, homes needed to be built, and, I daresay, if one were to consider only those needs, there would never be a good time to build a Church, a Cathedral or any of the great buildings of faith around the world. But, once they are built, they have proven to be instruments that brought people together, and deepened the spiritual and emotional experiences of people.

“I am fortified by the words of Holy Scripture, in Ecclesiastes chapter eleven (11), verse four (4), which says: ‘If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never sow anything and never harvest anything.’ I am hoping that the Christian community in Ghana, Africa and abroad, will rise up to the challenge, and join in the fundraising for the construction of the National Cathedral. I do not envisage that this project will take a century to complete like the great historical cathedrals of the world. Technology has transformed building methods dramatically, and I am certain that, if the Christian community accepts the challenge, we shall construct this cathedral and quickly. Once completed, its value will be obvious to all.

“Three (3) years ago, on 15th April 2019, the great Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was engulfed by a big fire. The next morning, the French President, His Excellency Emmanuel Macron, stood by the devastated monument and said, and I quote, ‘Notre Dame is our history, our literature, part of our psyche, the place of all our great events, our epidemics, our wars, our liberations, the epicentre of our lives’. That statement sparked a dramatic response amongst the French people, for it led many French men and women, great and small, to make generous contributions towards the restoration of the great, iconic monument, which is fully on course.

“Those words struck a deep chord within me. That is what I see as the purpose of our national Cathedral. Let us build our National Cathedral to be the epicentre of our lives, the place for our great celebrations, our thanksgiving, our funerals, the place for great moments of silence and introspection, the place that symbolises the place of faith in our national psyche. I give my personal undertaking that the funds raised for the building of the National Cathedral will be treated with the sacred trust that they deserve, with transparency and accountability.

“Eminent Clergy, I pray that you have fruitful discussions and your conference is successful. We look forward to hearing the results of your deliberations. And, let me, again, remind those of you who are visitors to make time to visit our beautiful country.

“And let me, in conclusion, express great joy and gratitude to the Holy Father for the elevation of our worthy compatriot, Bishop Baaworb Richard Kuuia, and our fellow African, Bishop Peter Okpaleke, of Nigeria, to the enviable status of Cardinals of the Catholic Church. They are both to be warmly congratulated. I had the great privilege and pleasure to be part of the Government delegation in October 2003 as then Minister for Foreign Affairs that accompanied Bishop Peter Appiah Turkson to Rome, when he was elevated by Pope John Paul II to the status of Cardinal. It was a great eye opener for me, which I continue to cherish till today, including the companionship of Archbishop Gabriel Palmer Buckle, who was with us in Rome at the time.”

By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana

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