DAR ES SALAAM: VICE-PRESIDENT Dr Philip Mpango has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to collaborate with the Roman Catholic Church and other religions in bringing development, while upholding peace and security for the betterment of the country.
Dr Mpango made the pledge in his remarks to welcome the new Eminence Protase Cardinal Rugambwa at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) in Dar es Salaam yesterday, while arriving from the Vatican, where he was ordained by Pope Francis a week ago.
According to the VP, the ordination is a true reflection and blessing from God to the people of Tanzania, indicating that the country is truly blessed to have the third cardinal serve the Roman Catholic church.
“Even when you were in the Vatican for the ordination ceremony, you emphasised on the country’s peace and unity. This symbolises your true commitment to our beloved country,” Dr Mpango said.
He added: “On behalf of President Samia Suluhu Hassan, I would like to welcome you back home and wish you fruitful service as you get prepared to start your new roles.
The Archbishop Emeritus of Dar es Salaam, his Eminence Polycarp Cardinal Pengo expressed appreciation to Pope Francis for the appointment of his successor.
“I’m profoundly honoured to express my joy before you to have a person whom I can call as my young brother, serving as the new church Cardinal.
“I’m speechless because I’m so happy. If there is something to talk about, we will find time to talk,” said Cardinal Pengo.
Cardinal Pengo expressed his gratitude to God for enabling him witness another cardinal from the Tanzanian church while still alive.
For his part, the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) President, Archbishop Gervas Nyaisonga prayed for blessings of Cardinal Rugambwa while assuring him of cooperation from TEC.
“TEC will continue to respect and cooperate with the episcopal in furthering rights and responsibilities of continuing to demonstrate the emancipation of mankind.
“Eminence Pengo will continue to guide you, and don’t think that this is a burden to carry alone, but we will all carry it and walk together,” said Archbishop Nyaisonga.
The new Eminence Protase Cardinal Rugambwa called on the public to include him in their prayers so that he can fulfil his new commitment.
The Chairman of Tanzania Women Catholic Association and the President of African Women Association, Evelyn Mtenga said that it was a blessing from God to have a new church leader.
She said it was a duty of the entire church to pray for him to fulfil his duties.
“As mothers, we are happy to have a new son of Africa take charge in the Tanzanian church,” she said.
The United States Ambassador to Tanzania, Dr Michael Battle said one of the biggest blessings in Tanzania is where all the religions work together and are responsible to their people.
“Tanzania is very blessed because religious leaders cooperate and have been a voice for their people,” said Dr Battle.
Eminence Rugambwa becomes the third Cardinal in Tanzania preceded by Cardinal Laurian Rugambwa and his eminence Polycarp Pengo.
Tanzania is the first country to have an African Cardinal, Eminence Laurian Cardinal Rugambwa on 28 March 1960 who was ordained by Pope John XXIII.
On July 9, 2023, the pontiff appointed 21 new cardinals, including the Coadjutor Archbishop of Tabora, Archbishop Protase Rugambwa.
After being ordained last week, President Samia took to social media to congratulate the cleric and wished him all the best and success in his ministry.
“My heartfelt congratulations to his Eminence Protase Cardinal Rugambwa for being officially ordained by the Holy Father Francis as a Cardinal. The motto of your mission is ‘Go into the world’, reflecting the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Mark 16:15, on the mission that cares for all people, all places and all times,” the Head of State shared via her X (formerly Twitter) account.
Cardinal Rugambwa is a Tanzanian prelate of the Catholic Church who has been archbishop coadjutor of the Archdiocese of Tabora since April 2023.
He was a secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of People from November 2017 to April 2023.
He previously served as congregation’s adjunct secretary and president of the Pontifical Mission Societies from 2012 to 2017.