DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     January 20, 1999     vol. 10, no. 13


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      This new feature will spotlight each member of the Conclave. We find this necessary as our dear Sovereign Pontiff Pope John Paul II grows older, clinging to hope, as we join him, of seeing the light of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart with the dawn of the new millennium - the Jubilee Year 2000. How much longer this 264th successor of Peter has left on this earth only God knows for sure, but His Divine Mercy is evident in allowing him to be with us this long for he truly is a saint for our times, truly Christ's Vicar on earth in these waning days before the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart, the Time of Peace, the Era of the Eucharistic Presence, the New Pentecost, the Second Advent, the Age of the Holy Spirit. What 1999 will bring we have no idea, nor does anyone else, but with John Paul II at the helm, we feel much more secure in knowing God's Will will be done. Nevertheless, we want to preview the future Pope whether that be soon or much, much later, for no one lives forever and eventually one of those prelates will be selected as the 265th successor of Peter. This will give the reader a better insight into the man whom the Holy Spirit will move the conclave to choose. Thus we bring the reader vignettes on each cardinal in alphabetical order gleaned from the Catholic Almanac, Inside the Vatican and other sources.

8.   Cardinal Francis Arinze

          Cardinal Francis Arinze is one of Africa's most influential prelates and quite active in Church affairs and curial matters. Born in Eziowelle, Nigeria on All Saints Day in 1932, he became a priest on November 23, 1958. He was assigned professorial duties at Bigard Memorial Seminary and then appointed Regional Secretary for Catholic Education in Eastern Nigeria. On August 29, 1965 he was ordained titular bishop of Fissiana and ausiliary bishop of Onitsha. He became Archbishop of Onitsha in 1967 where he served until 1984. In 1979, Pope John Paul II could see the potential in this enterprising Nigerian bishop and asked him to become pro-president of the Holy See's Secretariat for Non-Christians, an office originally instituted by Pope Paul VI on May 19,1964. Arinze was also unanimously chosen President of the Nigerian Bishops' Conference and on May 25, 1985 the Holy Father bestowed the red-hat on him, naming him a Cardinal deacon and assigning him as President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the same office he held before the Holy Father changed the name on June 28, 1988 through his Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus. In this capacity he oversees the promotion of studies and dialogue for the purpose of increasing mutual understanding and respect between Christians and non-Christians. This office also incorporates the Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims. On January 29, 1996 he was named a Cardinal priest.

          Not only is Cardinal Arinze one of the leading prelates of Africa, but quite possibly one of the more influential in the entire College of Cardinals and his name has been bandied about as papal material, especially in light of the tremendous growth of the Church in Africa. Add to this his active participation in the Roman curia with membership in the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, and the Committee for the Grand Jubilee of the Holy Year 2000. Despite the fact the hierarchy wasn't established until 1950, Nigeria leads all Catholic nations in Africa with 12,777,000 Catholics and has shown tremendous growth under the leadership of Cardinal Francis Arinze, adding ten new dioceses within the last five years.

January 20, 1999       volume 10, no. 13


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