Pope Benedict XVI Expresses 'Sadness' At Death of Ghanaian President

Apostolic Nuncio of Ghana Delivers Message From Holy Father to Newly Sworn Leader

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By Junno Arocho

ACCRA, Ghana, JULY 30, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Pope Benedict XVI expressed his condolences upon hearing of the death of John Evans Atta Mills, president of Ghana. Elected in 2009, Atta Mills was only months away from completing his first term in office.

In a telegram addressed to the newly sworn president, John Dramani Mahama who had served as vice president prior to Atta Mills’ death, the Holy Father mourned the loss of the Ghanaian president.

"Recalling his years of public service and his dedication to democratic principles, I join you, his family, and all the people of Ghana in mourning his passing," the Pope said in his message.

"Entrusting the late president’s soul to the providence of Almighty God, I pray that Ghana will be blessed with peace and prosperity as you begin your service as president in these sad circumstances," the Holy Father concluded in his telegram.

According to Ghana News Agency, Pope Benedict XVI’s message was delivered to President Mahama by a delegation of bishops led by Archbishop Léon Kalenga Badikebele, Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana and Bishop Joseph Osei-Bonsu, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Ghana.

Archbishop Kalenga stated that the Holy Father, though shocked at the death of Atta Mills, was confident that "Ghana was a peaceful country and would survive the fear that gripped the people."

President Mahama thanked the Bishops Conference for their expression of condolences, saying that Atta Mills was a true believer in God and that his "own faith was strengthened by his [Atta Mills] faith." The newly elected leader of Ghana said he would continue to count on the support and counsel of the Bishops Conference to achieve the country’s development goal.