Pope Francis ended his homily during the Aug. 27 consistory mentioning that one cardinal-elect, Richard Kuuia Baawobr of Wa (Ghana), was not present.
Francis asked for prayers for the African prelate, explaining Baawobr had been taken ill.
The Holy Father said Cardinal Baawobr had been hospitalized and, therefore, unable to attend the ceremony.
“I do not want to end without recalling Cardinal Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Bishop of Wa, who yesterday, upon his arrival in Rome, felt bad and was hospitalized with a heart problem and I think they did some type of operation,” said Pope Francis after his homily for the day’s festivities.
“Let us pray for this brother who ought to have been here and is hospitalized,” said the Holy Father. “Thank you.”
Elected President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) on July 30, the 63-year-old Baawobr is known in Ghana for “many acts of charity, key among them, his love for people suffering from mental challenges and who have been neglected by their families,” CNA’s sister agency ACI Africa reported in July.
Baawobr also serves as a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, a post he has held since July 2020.
He is one of two newly created cardinals from Africa, the other – Cardinal Peter Okpaleke – hails from Nigeria's Ekwulobia Diocese. Another Ghanaian cardinal, Peter Turkson, currently serves as chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
The hospitalization reveals how swiftly numbers for the conclave can change. With the cardinal, today’s consistory brings the total number of cardinal electors from Africa to 17 or 12.8% of the total cardinal electors.
Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the world's fastest-growing regions of Catholicism, according to statistics published by the Vatican in the Annuario Pontificio and the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae.
In a July 28 interview with ACI Africa, Baawobr reflected on his mission as cardinal, saying, “It is an occasion to renew our commitment to serve and to serve in collaboration with the Holy Father.”
“It comes down very strongly that we are not alone in this mission. And the Holy Father is inviting us to share, to collaborate with him,” he said and added, “I think from there also I draw the message that wherever we are, if people are needing our collaboration in order to attain a specific goal, we should offer that with joy and humility and simplicity.”