African News

Senegal’s Catholic Church vindicates Pierre Goudiaby Atépa

By Frederic Tendeng
Senegal’s head of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Theodore Adrien Sarr, has addressed a letter to President Abdoulaye Wade to clarify issues raised in an allegation by architect Pierre Goudiaby Atépa, linking him [Cardinal Sarr] to the brawl that opposes the country’s Catholic Church to the Senegalese Head of State. In a letter dated January 14th, the Cardinal asked Wade to reconcile with Mr Goudiaby, arguing that the renowned architect never influenced his stance when the Senegalese Catholics massively mobilized to protest against President Wade’s statement that compared his controversial monument to the Christian cross of Jesus Christ. In his letter, the Archbishop said “following our yesterday telephone conversation, I now use my pen to once again confirm to you that I fully assume my reaction after your unfortunate comments on a Christian dogma. I therefore invite you to consider reconciling with Pierre Goudiaby Atépa as part of the appeasement process you and I agreed upon on Saturday January 10th”, the Senegalese Church leader wrote.
In a bid to set the records straight, Cardinal Sarr said in his letter: “As I have explained to you on several occasions, Mr. Goudiaby did not stir up the discontent that followed your comments but rather, I did”, the clergyman said. He explained that “Mr Goudiaby just enquired if I knew what happened”.
Explaining what happened on Monday December 28th 2009, Cardinal Theodor Adrien Sarr said in his letter “at around 20 hours 40, one of my close associates who is also a Priest phoned me to express concern over the reaction of Christians who followed a television report on Walf TV about your meeting the same day with a group of teachers. These Christians expressed concern and disagreement over certain comments you made”. Cardinal Sarr continues his story: “In the early hours of Tuesday, December 29th, I decided to form a thought group to first gather information as regards what happened and then consider ways to contend the indignation and the anger that kept growing within the Christian community. I was about to contact the offices of three sister Christians churches, when I received a phone call from Mr. Goudiaby, who wanted to enquire if I knew what had happened” the Cardinal wrote.
On the phone conversation between him Pierre Goudiaby Atépa, Cardinal Theodor Adrien Sarr said: “I then explained to him my plan to convene a meeting on Tuesday evening. It’s from our common thought that emerged the communication strategy which was able to contend the outrage of the Christian community and help to avoid violent demonstrations in one hand as well as let your collaborators and yourself understand the profoundly negative implication about everything you said in the other hand,” Cardinal Sarr explained in his letter. He revealed that the outcome of the audience granted to the Senegalese Clergy by President Abdoulaye Wade is a proof that the strategy he adopted was correct: “We always give thanks to God for that. Be assured that all bishops of Senegal pray and work to calm our respective communities. It is in this healing context that I am asking you to kindly extend your relationship to Mr. Pierre Goudiaby Atépa, given the collaboration you two have maintained for so many years. By expressing the assurance of my sincere personal gratitude, please accept, Mr President, the assurance of my profound respect, my support and prayers”, the Cardinal concluded his letter. Pierre Goudiaby Atépa was a close friend and collaborator to the Senegalese President before they fell apart as a result of the anger that followed Abdoulaye Wade’s controversial statement on the Christians adoration of the cross. The confusion between the two men went crescendo after Farba Senghor, another collaborator and former minister of Wade openly said on Walf TV that Pierre Goudiaby Atépa encouraged Cardinal Sarr and Senegalese Christians to protest against Wade’s comments. Pierre Goudiaby was not in Senegal when the accusations were made against him but his collaborators called rubbish all the accusation levelled against him. Notwithstanding, Mr Goudiaby’s workers on the much decried Monument de la Renaissance were last week sacked by Senegal’s First Lady Madam Viviane Wade.

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