Lagos – Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello representing Pope Francis had led representatives of Catholic bishops from Africa to pray and rejoice with Ghana as it celebrated its 60th independence anniversary.

The bishops, members of the Standing Committee of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences for Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), did this as part of activities marking its first meeting for the year 2017.

Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo, South-West Nigeria, and a member of SECAM’s standing committee disclosed this in an e-mail he made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Thursday.

Badejo said that they, also joined by other dignitaries of church and state, converged on Accra to celebrate and pray for the country and the continent.

Badejo said that His Eminence Giuseppe Bertello, the Pope Francis’ representative at the event, is the Cardinal Governor of the Vatican State, and a former Nuncio in Ghana many years ago.

NAN also reports that Ghana formerly known as Gold Coast gained independence from Britain on March 6, 1957.

Ghana then became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and was led to independence by Kwame Nkrumah who transformed the country into a republic, with himself as president for life.

Badejo in the e-mail said, “On Sunday March 5, 2017, the bishops of SECAM joined the Episcopal Conference of Ghana and the entire nation to celebrate the country’s 60th anniversary of Independence.

“The event coincided as well with the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Apostolic Nunciature `the Pope’s embassy’ in Ghana,’’ he said.

Badejo said that Pope Francis was represented at the double celebration by the Cardinal Governor of the Vatican State, His Eminence Giuseppe Bertello, who was a former Nuncio in Ghana many years ago.

The Cardinal was hosted by the Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana, Archbishop Jean Marie Speich, who many years ago had worked at the Nunciature in Nigeria.

Badejo said that the meeting was, indeed, a lively one for the Papal envoy, the Nuncio and the Standing Committee of SECAM.

“At the beautiful and solemn Independence Mass celebrated on the first Sunday of Lent, Cardinal Bertello declared his undying love for Africa and urged the people of Ghana to sustain the work of evangelization.

“The bishops also congratulated Ghana for being a leading light in democratic governance in Africa and prayed that its leaders continue to take the lead in responding to the yearnings and aspirations of its people.’

It also said that the committee during its meeting commended the authorities of the Vatican Radio for its role for decades in the evangelization of Africa and the spiritual development of African peoples in a message sent to it.

“The Vatican Radio has always been a credible source for accessing news about the Universal Church and a ready channel for sharing news about Africa with the rest of the world.

“It, however, expressed its concern about the recent shutdown of the shortwave services of the radio station which had afforded millions of Africans the opportunities to hear Holy Father and share in the Church’s concerns and mission.’’

The bishops who said that Vatican Radio services could still be received through the internet, however, said that many Africans did not have the means or the technology to enjoy such services.

They appealed for the restoration of the shortwave services as a means of sustaining the mission of evangelization on the African continent.

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