A Cardinal in the Catholic Church is a senior member of the clergy and immediately behind the pope in the order of precedence. Collectively, they constitute the College of Cardinals and are appointed for life.
Their most solemn responsibility is to elect a new Pope in a conclave, almost always from among themselves, when the Holy See is vacant.
During the period between a Pope’s death or resignation and the election of his successor, the day-to-day governance of the Holy See is in the hands of the College of Cardinals.
The right to participate in a conclave is limited to Cardinals who have not reached the age of 80 years by the day the vacancy occurs. In addition, Cardinals collectively participate in papal consistories, in which matters of importance to the Church are considered and new Cardinals may be created.
Cardinals of working age are also appointed to roles overseeing dicasteries of the Roman Curia, the central administration of the Catholic Church.
Most Cardinals are Bishops and Archbishops leading dioceses and archdioceses around the world – often the most prominent diocese or archdiocese in their country. There are no strict criteria for elevation to the College of Cardinals. Since 1917, a potential cardinal must already be at least a priest, but laymen have been Cardinals in the past. The selection is entirely up to the Pope and tradition is his only guide.
But how many Cardinals have come from Ghana so far?
With the recent elevation of Most Rev. Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Ghana has had three Cardinals with one being deceased.
Peter Appiah Turkson
Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson is the first Ghanaian Cardinal of the Catholic Church.
He was president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from October 24, 2009, to January 1, 2017. From 2017 to 2021 he was the prefect of the newly created Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, which consolidated several areas under one administration including, environment, ecology, ethics, dignity of all people, poverty, and economics.
In 2022, Pope France named him the chancellor of the Pontifical Academies for Sciences and for Social Sciences.
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson was Archbishop of Cape Coast from 1992 to 2009.
He served as President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference from 1997 to 2005, and as Chancellor of the Catholic University College of Ghana beginning in 2003.
He was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2003.
Turkson is the first Ghanaian cardinal and was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the papal conclave of 2005 that elected Pope Benedict XVI and the papal conclave of 2013 that elected Pope Francis.
Peter Porekuu Dery was the second Catholic Archbishop to be appointed as a Cardinal after Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson.
He was born on May 10, 1918., and died on March 6, 2008. He studied for the priesthood in Navrongo from 1934 to 1939 prior to commencing his philosophical and theological studies at Saint Victor’s school in Wiagha.
He received his ordination to the priesthood in Nandom at Saint Theresa’s Church from Bishop Gérard Bertrand in 1951 before furthering his studies.
Cardinal Dery earned a diploma in social studies from the Saint Francis Xavier college in Antigonish in Canada in 1958 and also obtained his doctorate from the International Catechetical Institute “Lumen vitae” in Brussels in Belgium. The former permitted him to enter after the Knights of Columbus granted him a scholarship in 1957.
He returned to his homeland in 1959 serving as a parochial vicar in Nandom before serving as the vicar-general for the Tamale archdiocese until 1960.
Cardinal Dery served as Archbishop of Tamale from 1974 to 1994 and was elevated to the cardinalate in 2006.
He also served as the Bishop of Wa prior to his elevation as Archbishop.
Cardinal Dery died on March 6, 2008.
The cause for his canonization commenced in mid-2013 and the late cardinal is now referred to as a Servant of God.
Richard Kuuia Baawobr
Most Rev. Richard Kuuia Baawobr is the third to be appointed as a Cardinal after Peter Appiah Turkson and the late Peter Dery.
Bishop Baawobr was 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.
Bishop Baawobr has served as a priest since 1987.
He served in the Democratic Republic of Congo for four years, before being transferred to Tanzania, where he served in the House of Formation for three years, and later worked in France, where he again served in the House of Formation.
Most Rev. Baawobr was later elected the first Assistant-General to the Superior-General of the Missionaries of Africa in Rome, a position he served for six years before he was elected the Superior-General where he served another six years.
Pope Francis then appointed Most Rev. Baawobr as the Bishop of Wa after his tenure as Superior-General ended.
He had served as the Bishop of Wa for the past six years.