03.04.2005 General News

Pope John Paul left remarkable landmarks for Ghana

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Koforidua, April 03, GNA - Very Rev Charles Palmer-Buckle, the Catholic Bishop of Koforidua, on Sunday described the late Pope John Paul 11 as one who has left behind remarkable landmarks for Ghanaian Catholicism.

Bishop Palmer-Buckle, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra-designate, told the GNA in an interview at Koforidua "I think Ghanaians will remember him for two main things."

One is his visit to Ghana in May 1980 to celebrate the centenary of Catholicism in Ghana. The other is the elevation of Peter Cardinal Appiah Turkson in October 2003.

He said during the late Pope's pontificate, the Catholic dioceses of Ghana increased from nine to 18 within nine years and 14 new bishops were ordained.

"I think it will definitely go down in history as a remarkable pontificate for Ghana."

He said, "I have the singular opportunity to know Pope John Paul fairly closely. I studied in Rome from 1979 to 1984 and visited the Vatican several times."

"I joined in ceremonies with him, he visited the college I was studying in, we studied his documents, letters, apostolic exhortations in the university and wrote papers on him." "Then in 1992, he made me bishop, the first bishop of Koforidua, and therefore I have very emotional and sentimental attachment to him."

Bishop Palmer-Buckle said the late Pope had written hundreds of documents about life and death, from pain to mercy, to labour, to euthanasia, contraceptives, morality and "I think he will go down as the most influential Pope of all time."

As to whether an African Pope could be expected since Pope John Paul broke over 350 years of Italian domination of the Papacy, he answered, "I don't know whether the world is ready for an African pope.''

''It is my feeling that the world might not be ready for an African Pope yet. The one African Cardinal who is very much involved in the Curia is Francis Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria." Other African cardinals, he said, were young who were created not very long ago.

He said they might have the qualification as cardinals but might not have the practical experience of working within that set up. ''Let's be frank and honest about it. If we get an African for a Pope so be it. We will all be blessed and we will be ready to serve and work with him but we should be ready for anybody else, even an Italian," he said.

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