The following information was provided by the USCCB's Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development:
Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, who recently retired as bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, was active in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and a leader in the Conference’s engagement with the Church in Africa.
Bishop Ricard served as chairman and a longstanding member of the Committee on International Justice and Peace. His worked to keep the Conference’s policy approach to Africa rooted in the reality of the many Africans who live in poverty and conflict and are in need of solidarity.
The nation of Sudan always had a special place in Bishop Ricard’s ministry. He made many solidarity trips to Sudan, giving the Conference an unprecedented level of presence in Sudan and strengthening the capacity of the Church in Sudan to be an agent of reconciliation and peace.
The peaceful results of the recent referendum in Southern Sudan is a sign of the effectiveness of his strong advocacy with the United States government over many years. The United States played a key role in supporting the people of Sudan at this time of transition. And although much remains to be achieved for the people of Sudan, there is reason to hope—and part of that hope is due to Bishop Ricard’s leadership.
His persistence and vision made the establishment of Subcommittee for the Church in Africa possible and through his efforts the Conference has raised millions of dollars in contributions for the Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa. The Fund is strengthening the pastoral capacity of the Church in Africa—the fastest growing part of the Church. As the Chairman of the Subcommittee for the Church in Africa he has advanced the fund, and greatly increased the outreach of the Conference to our Catholic brothers and sisters on a continent.