Responding to the controversy surrounding the funding of the national cathedral, he noted that when iconic cathedrals like St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Notre Dame in Paris and the National Cathedral in Washington DC were built, those countries that housed them had not fully satisfied other pressing developmental needs.
“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,
“I dare say, 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 their spiritual and emotional experiences of people.
“I am fortified by the words of the Holy Scripture, in Ecclesiastes Chapter 11, verses 4, which says: if you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never sow anything and never harvest anything,” he stated.
The six-day Plenary Assembly which has drawn some 130 participants including cardinals, bishops, and representatives of Church institutions from Africa, the Vatican, Europe, and the Americas, is being held under the theme “Ownership of SECAM: Security and migration in Africa and its Islands.”
The conference would deliberate on the security concerns in Africa and the role of the Catholic Church in addressing those challenges.
President Akufo-Addo said when the National Cathedral was completed, its intrinsic value would be appreciated by not only Ghanaians but the rest of Africa and the world.
He said the edifice would help fill a missing link in the country’s spiritual architecture and serve as a fulcrum for propagating the Christian faith, unifying the Christian community, and epitomising religious liberty.
“But most 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 entire 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 President said the National Cathedral, which design he described as an “Architectural Expression of African Christianity,” would provide an interdenominational space for worship, and would serve to put God at the centre of the nation-building efforts.
“The project also includes a Bible Museum of Africa and will be the largest Bible Museum in the world, with a thematic focus on, firstly, the role of Africa and Africans in the Bible, and, secondly, the history and contemporary place of the church in Africa and the African Diaspora”.
“It will house the Bible translated into African languages, tell the story of the Church in Africa and the African Diaspora, and provide a convening platform for discussions on the role of faith in Africa’s transformation,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that on completion, the National Cathedral would be adorned with trees, shrubs, and flowers to make it the “Biblical gardens of Africa” and serve as a major resource for Christians all over the African continent.
“These three initiatives – the pathbreaking design, the Bible Museum of Africa, and the Biblical gardens of Africa – will help to ensure the relevance of the project to the Church in Africa.
“We intend also to engage the Vatican Museum and Library to see whether it will be possible to secure artifacts that will help to make this into a major resource centre for African Christians.
The Vatican has been known to provide such assistance in appropriate cases,” he said.
The President pointed out that though the Cathedral would be a national institution, the cost would be largely borne by the Christian community, with the state providing the land and initial funding.
He appealed to the Christian community in Ghana, Africa and abroad, to rise to the challenge, and join in the fundraising for the construction of the Cathedral.
“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,” he said.