Rev. Fr. Joseph Adu Owusu-Agyeman,  a Ghanaian Catholic Priest in charge of  All Saints Parish, Santansi in the Kumasi Archdiocese clocked a historic feat by earning a spot as a High Court Judge.

AGNUS-DEI MEDIA shares a sneak peek into the life of Rev. Fr. Owusu-Agyeman who was sworn in on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 as a High Court Judge.

Rev. Fr. Joseph Adu Owusu-Agyeman  was born on April 23, 1968 at Esaase-Bontefufuo and ordained into Priesthood on June 14, 2007 by Archbishop Peter K. Sarpong in the Kumasi Archdiocese.

He had his basic education at Esaase from 1975 to 1984 and proceeded to St. Hubert Seminary at Santasi in the Kumasi Archdiocese from 1985 to 1992.

From St. Hubert, he went on to St. Paul’s Major Seminary at Sowutuom in the Accra Archdiocese.

In 1997, Rev. Fr. Owusu-Agyeman proceeded to the University of Ghana, and to the Ghana School of Law from 2000 to 2002.

Fr. Owusu-Agyeman has had the education flair at the Grand Seminaire St. Gall in Ouidah, Benin from 2003 to 2007.

For his Masters Programme: LLB, he proceeded to University of London for the further studies from 2012 to 2014.

NOTABLE POSITIONS HELD BY FR. OWUSU-AGYEMAN

•Partner; Holy Trinity Chambers – 2003-2018

•Partner; F&J legal Consult – 2018 to date.

• part time lecturer at Kumasi Polytechnic – 2002 to 2003

•Executive Secretary; Development Office of the Kumasi Archdiocese- 2008 to 2013

•Member, Board of Directors; Catholic Technical Institute- 2008 to 2013

•Part time Lecturer; University of Winneba, Kumasi Campus -2010 to date

•Member, Archdiocesan Curia – 2008 to date

•Member, Priests’ Senate- 2008 to date

•Member, Committee for the Erection of Parishes- 2008 to date

•Director, Archdiocesan Legal Services – 2013 to date

•Legal Advisor to Ghana Armed Forces – 2017 to date

• Appointment as Judge to Archdiocesan Tribunal-2018

•Member, Board of Directors of Nursing and Midwifery Training College

Rev. Fr. Owusu-Agyeman was called to the bar on October 4, 2002, and  holds various qualifications from LLB, BL, Post Graduate Certificate in Laws, Diploma supplement through to LLM.

INSIGHT

Desk of the Diocesan Chancery( Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi)
Appointment of Rev Fr Joseph Adu Owusu Agyeman as a High  Court Judge in Ghana
Can a catholic priest be appointed as a high court judge?
1.  Yes, if the priest is dispensed by his bishop. The  bishop has power of dispensation as intrinsic to his power of governance. Canon 87#1: A diocesan bishop, whenever he judges that it contributes to their spiritual good, is able to dispense from universal and  and particular disciplinary laws issued for his territory or his subjects by the Supreme Authority of the  Church. This permission  pertains to individual case.
2.  It is allowed by the Church to serve one’s Nation/State in the Public Office as Lecturers, Professors, Accountants, Chaplains to the Armed Forces, Security Forces, Doctors, Nurses, Midwives, Pharmacists, etc BUT NOT positions of partisan nature like that of a president Politicians, nor to the position of a Chief etc.
3. By the Church’s law, a Priest-Judge like Rev Fr Adu Owusu Agyeman, remains a priest but would be limited in his engagements. He will exercise his priestly ministry in private,  e.g. he will not  celebrate sacraments publicly but privately.
4. Article 57(1) of the Constitution of Ghana creates the authority /power of the state and its exercise. Article 57(2) gives the chain of precedence of those who can exercise the authority of state, namely the President, the Vice-President, the Speaker of Parliament and the Chief Justice. It must be noted here that the authority to exercise the powers of government are not left to the generality of the judiciary but specifically for the office of the Chief Justice. Indeed Article 125(4) creates the office of a Chief Justice who epitomizes the Judicial Arm of government such that the performance of the functions contemplated in Article 125(3) by other judicial officiants sources from his/her delegations. It does not happen per accident that Articles 128(1), 136(1),139(1), 142(1) and parallels include the Chief Justice in all the layers of the judicial offices. The administrative functions and all the duties to enpanel a court may be construed as means of delegation.
Again it can only be for a reason that writs are not issued in the name of parcticular courts but in the name of the Chief Justice. Therefore much as Article 58 gives the power of delegation to the President for efficiency and effectiveness so does the Chief Justice gets compliments from judges and other judicial officers. So if priests can serve under Ministry of Education or the Police Service or the Armed Forces which are under the Executive Arm of government, mutatis mutandis, a priest can serve under Judicial Arm of government.
4. Now issues of conflict with the Church: Canon 285§3 is emphatic that priests are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power. Provost J, has defined public office to include: administrative, legislative, judiciary, zonal boards, school boards and the like.
This canon dwells its strength on Lumen Gentium #31 which separates the roles of the laity from those in Holy Orders and cautions clerics in order that the do not confuse themselves. More to this,  the 1971 Synod of Bishops had attentioned that politics is contingent thus priests who are witnesses to the hereafter ought not meddle in them.
Whilst it is a truism that Pope Paul VI, forbade Ordinaries from dispensation from such prohibitions in his Apostolic Letter ‘ De Episcoporum Muneribus’ in 1966, presently, Canon 87§1 allows Diocesan Bishops to dispense from universal disciplinary laws as he judges helpful for the spiritual good of the faithful; or those not reserved for the Apostolic See. Again, Canon 90, effectuates this provision by only cautioning the Ordinaries to exercise greater care in evaluating the just and reasonable grounds upon which they dispense clerics to take up such assignments.
5. In conclusion,
Yes, a Priest, Lawyer Fr Joseph Adu Owusu Agyeman is now a Justice of the High Court.  It is allowed by the Church to serve one’s Nation/State in the Public Office as Lecturers, Professors, Accountants, Chaplains to the Armed Forces, Security Forces, Doctors, Nurses, Midwives, Pharmacists, etc BUT NOT in positions of partisan  Political nature, such as that of a President, nor to the position a Chief.
By the Church’s law, a Priest-Judge like Fr Adu Wusu Agyemang, shall be limited to offering private Masses himself, for God’s People and His Church.
SIGNIFICANTLY one point must be explained. There is a clear distinction between a Priest as a Judge and the priestly office. One is profession and the other is vocation.
The two offices are not conflicted. In the essence of our baptism is the tri-munera  function of priestly, kingly-judge, and prophetic-teaching. Indeed Christ himself came to us as a GENTLE JUDGE.
Please pray for our Priest Judge to make a difference and be an Evangelizer in the Judiciary. Amen.

Source: AGNUS-DEI MEDIA