Confusion Hits Catholic Bishops Over National Cathedral

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Palmer- Buckle Left Hanging By Church……

The Most Reverend Charles Gabriel Palmer- Buckle, the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Cape Coast, is acting on his own by supporting the construction of the National Cathedral as the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference, has disclosed the Akufo-Addo government has not held any discussion with them on the project.

Bishop Palmer- Buckle, is a member of the National Cathedral Construction Committee chaired by the Chairman of the New Patriotic Party’s National Disciplinary Committee, Most Reverend Dr. Samuel Asante-Antwi, and has its secretariat inside the Flagstaff House with workers, who are on state salary and allowances per a list submitted to Parliament.

Although, the government has said the churches have agreed to sponsor the project, the influential Catholic Church in Ghana, says it is not part of it, because government, has not held any discussion with them on funding and management of the National Cathedral.

Speaking at a national conference held at the National Catholic Secretariat, President of the bishops conference, Most Rev. Philip Naameh, said a broader consultation prior to government’s plan to build a National Cathedral for the Christian community, would have helped to avert or minimize the public anger over the project.

“Normally, we should have been asked to send a representative of the Catholic Conference. The person who is there and seen visibly as representing the Catholic Conference was actually invited by the President. He was not sent by us…We thought that this was not something so fundamental that we could not collaborate with the President and know what he wants to do. How this Cathedral is going to be funded. How it is going to be managed are not issues that have been discussed with us…”

The Catholic Standard newspaper, a mouthpiece of the church had earlier called for a change of the venue for the National Cathedral, stating that, demolishing t precious state buildings for the project was uncalled for, much as the facility is important.

Others have argued that, there are lots of state buildings and facilities rotting away out of lack of maintenance.

Mention was made of the Accra International Conference Centre, the National Theatre building, the State Banquet Hall for indoor events, and forecourt of the State House and the Independent Square, as places which religious events have been held regularly, hence putting up another facility like the National Cathedral, will be a waste of the resources, including land, money and time in the face of massive economic hardship.

President Akufo-Addo in 2017, cut sod for the construction of a National Cathedral, to serve as a national non-denominational Christian worship centre for the country.

Some nine justices of the Court of Appeal as well as other judicial staff occupying bungalows around the site earmarked for the project, have been asked to vacate to make way for the construction of the 5,000-seater capacity facility.

They are to move into temporary residential buildings pending the construction of some 21 new bungalows on the Second Circular Road – Cantonments in Accra. These will be completed and handed over by January 2020.

The passport office, the Judicial Training School, the College of Physicians and Surgeons are to be pulled down.

Others to go are a private property housing serious state infrastructures hosting sensitive and expensive IT infrastructure for many state entities, including the Bank of Ghana (BoG), the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) and other key corporate organizations both home and abroad.

The state has been warned it would have to cough up millions of dollars to relocate the ICT setup.

President Akufo-Addo in March last year inaugurated a 13-member Board of Trustees, to be in charge of the National Cathedral when it is completed.

The Board, largely constituted by heads of various church groups, has also been tasked to oversee the successful completion of the national chapel.

“It is an extremely solemn occasion for me because this is something that I have thought about sometime [and] I am hoping that if God is kind to me this will see the light of the day while I am a tenant,” the President said Thursday at a brief ceremony at the Flagstaff House.

The board members include; Most Reverend Asante Antwi – Chairman, Archbishop Charles Plamer Buckle – Vice Chairman, Prophet KusiBoateng  – Secretary to the Board.

The rest are, Apostle OpokuOnyinah, Rev. Joyce Agree, Moderator, Presbyterian Church, Cephas Amenyo, Right. Rev. OffeiAkrofi, Archbishop Nicholas Duncan Williams, Rev. Eastwood Anaba, Bishop Dag Heward-Mills, Pastor Mensa Otabil, Rev Dr. FrimpongManso and former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, Professor. Emmanuel Martey.

In the wake of the debate on the construction of a cathedral, National Democratic Congress [NDC] Member of Parliament for Tamale North, AlhassanSuhuyini asked the Akufo-Addo government to facilitate the construction of a national center of worship for other religious groups in the country.

“If that’s government’s decision and they find it important, I have nothing against it. But you see, this is not a decision by the Christian community. It is a decision of the government to give them a national cathedral. Maybe when they finish, they will give us too a national mosque, and they will give the traditional believers a national shrine too.”

“They do not have to wait for another faith to ask. Just like how they have taken this decision to dash a national cathedral to the Christian community, we expect them to do that. It should not be about another faith asking.”

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