RE: The Papal Award To President Kufuor ...

Sat, 6 Nov 2010 Source: Badu, Yaw Martin Agyemang

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RE: The Papal Award To President Kufuor And Matters Arising- An award for Human Dignity

In this article, I will not comment on the evidence given by Bro. Dominic as prove of the former president’s membership to Freemasonry. I am in no capacity to deny or validate it. What I believe we all seek is the truth and to educate ourselves on such an important honour. As a professional Human Dignity Advocate and a Catholic, I seek to enable Bro. Dominic define his arguments well for the benefit of the Church and for all those who defend the dignity of the human person and promote values of our society.

Bro. Dominic may have a good case as a staunch Catholic defending the sanctity of the Church. However, he is allowing himself to be carried away by too many intensions which are denying him the opportunity to establish his case well. I am glad in his response he did not mention again the argument of Catholic Standard Newspaper and Ghana Bishop Conference encyclicals against the PNDC/NDC government. In a personal email to me, he also acknowledges the fact that papal awards can be given to non-Catholics. I think, we are making some positive progress in this matter.

However, Bro. Dominic seem not appreciate certain criticisms aim at making him come out well with his concerns. In the first place, it is one issue to prove that the former president is indeed a Freemason. So must not be allowed to become a practising Catholic, although he can still be nominal Catholic by virtue of his baptism and another to prove that he does not deserve the papal award. These are separate issues although not mutually exclusive to some extent. I think Bro Dominic’s, concern is more of the former than the latter and so he needs to clearly define his arguments in the right reference. The more he tries to combine the subject of merit for the papal award with the subject of excommunication for members of secret societies, the more he complicates the matter and does not make his intension and concern well enough. He wants to believe that the Church is contradicting her self for knighting a Freemason. I am not sure what the Church view is on this matter more particularly because the pope has ever knighted non –Christians and non-religious people with the same award as former president Kufour. This can be quite technical and need interpretation from the Church authority. I will be very glad if the leaders of the Church in Ghana will do us the favour of educating us on whether a Freemason can be knighted by the pope.

Bro Dominic, made references to very important documents from Vatican, however it may also interest him to know that in May 2009, the Ghana Catholic Bishop conference came out strongly with a declaration concerning Masonic association by Catholics, it states, “ we the members of the Ghana Bishops’ conference, at the plenary meeting held in Accra on 7th May , 2009, in exercise of our pastoral duty to guide the members of the church to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ, and convinced of the irreconcilability of Freemasonry with the Catholic faith, hereby issue this declaration in order to apply the provisions of Cannon Law on sanctions for Catholics who join Masonic Associations. We declare, in accordance with the Church law, that : 1) Any Catholic who is a member of any Mansonic Association and participates in its programmes, or promotes its views, or holds any office therein, and refuses to renounced such membership despite at least one warning (cf. Canon 1347) is to be punished with an interdict (cf Canon 1347)... “. This declaration affirms the Mother Church teaching in this matter in the Ghanaian context. However, in the same declaration, it states that, “the personal and individual situation of a Catholic member of a Masonic Association should be considered”. I do not know the intensions of Bro. Dominic, but I sincerely think if it is for the good of the Church and the soul of the former president then he should consider his modus operandi in this matter and refine his argument. Also, we do not know the state of affair of Mr. Kufour with his Pastor and Bishop concerning this matter, in case he is a Freemason. So let us not be quick to judge or apply the whip.

I feel very uncomfortable, when he single out the Archbishop and Archbishop Emeritus in Kumasi for nominating the former president. It is not the Archbishop or his Emeritus alone who nominates some one for papal awards. It includes the Laity, Priest, Apostolic Nuncio and Vatican State Secretary. More importantly, Vatican also conduct thorough investigations about these awardees before granting the request of the nominators. If there is any mistake in the process for the honour, it is unfair to blame the Archbishop or his Emeritus, as it is only right for that to be a collective responsibility.

One thing that really surprises me about Bro. Dominic response was the fact that he refused to comment on what actually matter most on the award for the public and rather choose to laugh over it. I think this is unfortunate! When you critical study the recent publications on the Church’s social teaching, you will soon realize that a key interest for the Church is to promote human dignity concerning sexuality, marriage and education. It is for that reason that makes it a good idea to support people, particularly national leaders and celebrities who promote these principles in tune with the Church’s teaching. Hence, it is a great disserve to the Church and civil society who stand to promote the idea of Human Dignity, when the attention of the public concerning the award is directed to something else .Bro. Dominic seem not to realise that he has plunge the country into yet another unnecessary discussion concerning politicians and politics. For the seek of Ghana’s social and economic development, let us channel our attention to what can yield progress for our country through this award. That is, the focus on human dignity in our national development.

Again, the qualification for papal awards is indeed all embracing for which the village catechist , a caterer for seminarians, a potential excommunicant, sinners and saints are all qualified provided they achieve the bases of distinct service to society and the Catholic Church. However, the awards as we often see in our local churches seem to be for very influential people, what a friend called the “Rich Righteous”. This is not in way to argue that is right or wrong, but I guess that is what we have all witness in our local churches, particularly those who are knighted. Bro. Domininc may want to raise a concern that the nominations for papal awards are not fair and so the Church in Ghana should take another look on her nominations. However, we cannot deny the fact that there are people in society who to have much influence than others by virtue of their roles. If the pope chooses to knight influential people in specific social roles, it is not to say they are more righteous than others but for a purpose beneficial to our common good. This may be liken to a celebrity and advertiser of a product who may not necessary consume it as much as he wants us to patronise it. In this particular case of Mr. Kufour, he promoted the Church view related to sexuality and moral education. In that perspective, it is appropriate to honour such a national leader for his support to such worthy principles in times when other national leaders have lost grounds to defend a similar agenda in their country. People are awarded not because they have always than right or will always do right but have done something which deserves commendation. In this instance, the award is not to prove that Mr. kufour did nothing wrong as a President or is even doing nothing wrong as a former President but he has done something as a national leader of his country to prevent an international gay conference and maintain religious and moral education in junior high schools. These are important decisions that seek to protect the dignity of the human person. Please! Let us not make the pope a judge of Ghanaian politicians.

Although, I do admire the expressions of Bro. Dominic, I am afraid he couches his emotions in unpleasant words. For example, he used words like “fight” and “connivance”. I really do not think that is necessary. The church has much space to embrace those who play the devil advocate. There is no need to be bitter about this matter. I believe the good leaders of the Holy Mother Church will find a way to handle your concerns which are very vital for her growth and the salvation of souls.

As an Advocate for Human Dignity in development practice, I will appeal to the general public to use this opportunity of honour for the former President to reflect on Human Dignity, the most important reason for Mr. Kufuor’s knighthood and think about ways in which we can uphold and promote the dignity of each human person in our family, professional career, leadership role and country’s policies.

Yaw Martin Agyemang Badu MSc (London School of Economics)

Dignity and Entrepreneurship Institute (The DEI Ghana)


Columnist: Badu, Yaw Martin Agyemang