President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that there will be no appropriate time for Ghana to construct a national cathedral, indicating that the functional and intrinsic value of the project will be evident when it is completed.
The comment of the President comes on the heels of recent controversy surrounding the cost of building the National Cathedral and whether or not its construction should be a priority for the country in light of prevailing national and global economic challenges.
Addressing Catholic Bishops attending the 19th plenary assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, at Christ the King Church, today 26 July 2022, President Akufo-Addo said if the stories surrounding the building of several iconic cathedrals around the world is anything to go by, then all efforts must be made both by the state and the church, to ensure that the National Cathedral is built.
“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,” President Akufo-Addo said.
A case for the Project
Making his case for the rationale behind the decision to build the National Cathedral, President Akufo-Addo noted, “It (the National Cathedral), 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,” he added.
The project, as rightly acknowledged by President Akufo-Addo, “has run into some controversy currently,” specifically with regards to its funding. The President maintained that his “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, 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,” the President said.
“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,” the President added.
Challenge to Christians
President Akufo-Addo expressed optimism that the Christian community in Ghana and beyond, will pick up 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,” President Akufo-Addo said.
“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,” President Akufo-Addo added.
The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) was born out of the wish of African Bishops during the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) to establish a forum in which they could speak with one voice on matters pertaining to the Church in Africa.
The establishment of SECAM is therefore the result of the Bishops’ resolve to build a continental structure in order to bring forth the African vision to the whole Church.