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Opinions of Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Columnist: Sagoe, Dominic

On The Papal Award To President Kufuor....

..... And The State Of The Catholic Church In Ghana

On the morning of 25th October, 2010, I woke up from my bed in Trondheim, Norway and as usual tried to update myself on the happenings in Nkrumah land. One of the many headlines on a popular Ghanaian website read “Catholic Church Honours Kufuor, Wife”. This headline at once captured my attention.

Reading the story, I learnt of the conferment of the prestigious Knight Commanderhood of the Order of Pope Pius IX on former President John Agyekum. This story captured my attention for various reasons which I intend discussing herein. After reading the story, I could not help but exclaim, “What is happening to Sir James Marshall`s Catholic Church”. In this article, I intend commenting, passionately, on some recent happenings in my beloved Catholic Church in Nkrumah land. I will also, dispassionately, show that former president Kufuor not only does not qualify for such an award, but is undeserving of such an honour.

When I was pursuing my Master of Philosophy degree in Social Psychology at the Department of Psychology, University of Ghana in 2008, I took a course in Media Psychology taught by Dr. Adjepong Afrifa, a prominent Social Psychologist. One of the topics we discussed at length was “The Media and Public Opinion” wherein we discussed the intercourse between media reportage and public opinion. At that lecture, Dr Afrifa extensively recounted how The Catholic Standard Newspaper led the attack on the erstwhile PNDC/NDC government of former president Dr. J. J. Rawlings.

He spoke at length on how vociferous the Catholic Standard Newspaper was at attacking the perceived injustices of the Rawlings regime and how even non-Catholics lined up en mass after mass on Sundays to patronize the newspaper to read the latest bash of the Rawlings regime that the other “emasculated” media could not dare utter a word about. He also topped it up with the bashing in the encyclicals of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference on such perceived injustices. During the lecture, my pride as a staunch Catholic and then junior Marshallan was boosted. However, I felt this pride attacked when finally he queried rhetorically “What is happening today?” I asked myself this question when I read the story on the papal award to former President John Agyekum. Many other questions have pricked my conscience.
Did the Catholic Standard and the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference not witness many of the injustices that characterized the tenure of former President Kufuor? What about Gizelle Yajzi cum the Dr. Anane Affair, the gruesome murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani and 42 others, Issah Mobila, Hotel De Waa Waa, the wanton corruption under former President Kufuor`s watch, Hon. Amoateng and the escalation of the cocaine trade under former President Kufuor`s watch, the Bokassa-like self-glorification, the Vodafone deal et al. What was said about these? Did they not deserve comments by the Church? The only time, I recall, the Catholic Standard and the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference were outspoken against the Kufuor led NPP administration was when Religious and Moral Education was decadently scrapped from the Junior High School syllabus and massive criticism from the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference led by Archbishop Sarpong on “Catholic Digest” and other media led to its reintroduction by the man who scrapped it. What about the newly-discovered corruption and looting of the Ghanaian people`s property by former President Kufuor and his gang of “lootocrats”. Do they not deserve commentary by the Catholic Standard and the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference? On top of all this preferential treatment, President Kufuor was nominated by a Ghanaian Catholic Archbishop and has been conferred such a prestigious papal award. In the next facet, I will show that president Kufuor did not qualify to be nominated to receive such an honour.
First of all, it is important to state that, former President Kufuor although he gave in to his wife and abandoned his Anglican roots and intermittently attends mass at Christ the King Catholic Church, Accra, has never been and is not Catholic. If an Anglican or Presbyterian attends mass all year or for ten years, does he or she automatically become Catholic? No! But that is only a small portion of my argument.

Assuming, without admitting, that former president Kufuor has received the three sacraments of Christian initiation - baptism, confirmation, and the holy Eucharist that makes a person a true Catholic, he still does not qualify as a Catholic because he has for decades been and continues to be a freemason. He has not shed off his Masonic ties and let anybody challenge me on this issue. Here is palpable evidence. Former President Kufuor is a Royal Arch Mason. In 2005, former president Kufuor was promoted to Past Senior Grand Deacon and later Past Grand Sword Bearer. He even attended the Grand Lodge Annual Investiture at Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, London on Wednesday, the 29th day of April, 2009.
At this juncture, it’s important to take a look at the Catholic Church`s stance on freemasonry. The Catholic Church's most recent statement on Freemasonry was released in the 1983 document, Quaesitum Est, written by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope John Paul II. This document remains the most current standing reference on the Church's policy on freemasonry. Quaesitum Est states that "The (Catholic) faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion...." Further, if a “Catholic Mason” adamantly and persistently refuses to submit to the pope’s authority in precluding his membership in the Lodge, he finds himself in a state of “automatic excommunication”. The Catholic Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic association remains unchanged since Masonic principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore membership in them remains forbidden to Catholics. Thus, former President Kufuor is in a state of “automatic excommunication” and is therefore not a Catholic. How could he have been nominated for such a papal award? In fact, in the 25 years of my life on earth, I have never come across a non-Catholic who has received a papal award. Someone prove me wrong.
This faulty nomination (and not faulty award) of former president Kufuor brings into question what the leadership of my Catholic lodge, the Noble Order of the Knights and Ladies of Marshall, did in Kumasi in 2003 at the sixth Marshall Re-Union conference by awarding former president Kufuor a Noble Order of the Knights of Marshall - Honoris Causa making him a member of the Noble Order. Were they oblivious of the fact that he was a freemason?

At present, former president Kufuor is both a Marshallan and freemason. What hypocrisy! What sacrilege! I do not fault the leadership of the Noble Order. President Kufuor should have disclosed his Masonic status to them. But given his fixation for awards, how could he reject such a juicy award. I bet anytime before he enters any Masonic chamber, he wears our beloved Marshallan regalia, puts on the Masonic regalia and apron to cover the Marshallan regalia and wears that 50 cent gold chain he awarded himself on top of it. I cannot help but laugh!
I however wish to state that as a Marshallan and staunch Catholic, I am unrelenting in my belief in papal infallibility. In this light, although whoever nominated former president Kufuor is at fault, Pope Benedict XVI is not at fault in awarding former President Kufuor this honour. Long Live the One Holy Roman Catholic Church!
Bro. Dominic Sagoe, B.A M.Phil (Ghana), M.Phil Cand. (NTNU)
Institute of Psychology
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Trondheim, Norway
sagoedominic@yahoo.co.uk
facebook.com/dominic.sagoe