Ghana archbishop: Africans in solidarity with cardinal who has COVID-19

Cardinal Philippe Ouedraogo of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, kneels in the sanctuary at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City Dec. 10, 2019. Cardinal Ouedraogo tested positive for COVID-19 in late March. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

By Damian Avevor
Catholic News Service

ACCRA, Ghana (CNS) — Archbishop John Bonaventure Kwofie assured Burkina Faso Cardinal Philippe Ouedraogo of the continent’s solidarity after the cardinal tested positive for COVID-19.

Cardinal Ouedraogo is president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, and Father Terwase Henry Akaabiam, secretary-general, confirmed the test results.

The cardinal is archbishop of Ouagadougou, and Auxiliary Bishop Medard Leopold Ouedraogo assured Archbishop Kwofie that the cardinal was responding to treatment and was in a stable condition March 31.

Archbishop Kwofie told the cardinal Africa’s bishops “join you in the fight against coronavirus that you insisted must be a pastoral priority.”

In a March 31 statement, Archbishop Kwofie, who serves as treasurer of SECAM, said that, during an early March meeting in Nairobi, the cardinal was worried about the pandemic.

Advising Catholics on the African continent, Archbishop Kwofie, said, “We are living in difficult and scary times, especially when we cannot easily identify who is infected with COVID-19.” He said living responsibly meant respecting national restrictions and added “We are not to take anything for granted.”

He also warned against “the temptation of putting God to the test.”

“Let us not succumb to the type of religious fundamentalism that seeks to throw away reason in matters of faith,” he said. “Reason is a faculty the creator God granted us to be used in our lives and in serving him.”

“Let us not throw away reason by believing that our faith will save us from the coronavirus even when we act irresponsibly. God wants us to remain healthy and alive in our service of him by obeying the directives that our government and church leaders place before us to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.”

Noting that circumstances do not allow Catholics to come together for worship, he said: “The church cannot and will not abandon you. We hear the voice of the Lord … ‘I am with you until the end of time.'”

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