Dar es Salaam. Hundreds of people showed up at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) to receive the newly appointed Cardinal Protase Rugambwa, who arrived in the country on Friday from Vatican City.
Cardinal Rugambwa arrived from the Vatican, which is the Roman Catholic Church, after becoming among the 21 clergymen that Pope Francis elevated to the rank of cardinal on September 30, 2023.
Rugambwa, who became one of three African Cardinals who have joined the College of Cardinals, becomes the third Cardinal in Tanzania, preceded by His Eminence Cardinal Laurean Rugambwa and His Eminence Policalp Cardinal Pengo.
Vice President Philip Mpango led hundreds of Tanzanians in welcoming Cardinal Rugambwa in Tanzania on Friday, where he congratulated Rugambwa for the appointment, saying the nation was “extremely happy” for him.
“We have been blessed,” Dr Mpango said during a brief welcoming ceremony at the airport. “On behalf of the government, we congratulate you. We continue to pray for peace in our nation, which you have emphasised on different occasions. We believe you’ll continue to promote peace, unity and love among Tanzanians.”
“Let me assure you that the government will continue to work closely with the Catholic Church of Tanzania, as is the case with other religious denominations in the country,” Mpango added in his greetings at the ceremony.
On his part, Cardinal Rugambwa thanked the Church and the Government for their warm welcome, urging people to pray for him so that he could perform his duties faithfully and efficiently.
“That will allow me to contribute to the human development of our home country, Tanzania and beyond,” he said.
Protase Rugambwa was born on May 31, 1960, at Bunene in the Catholic Diocese of Bukoba. Coincidentally, on this day, his namesake, Laurean Rugambwa, made history after becoming the first African to be appointed Cardinal.
After his primary and secondary schools in various minor seminaries in Katoke (where Dr John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, who served as the 5th President of Tanzania, was his classmate) and Itaga, Cardinal Rugambwa joined Kibosho Senior Seminary and St. Charles Lwanga Segerea Senior Seminary for philosophy and theological studies.
Rugambwa was ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Rulenge on September 2, 1990, by Pope John Paul II during his pastoral visit to Tanzania and was incardinated in the Catholic Diocese of Rulenge, now Rulenge-Ngara.
On January 18, 2008, the Holy Father Benedict XVI appointed Rugambwa the Bishop of the Diocese of Kigoma. He was consecrated as the Bishop of Kigoma on April 13, 2008.
On June 26. 2012, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Rugambwa as Adjunct Secretary of the congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, elevating him to the dignity of Archbishop.
You can read more about the life of Cardinal Rugambwa here.