DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     March 22, 1999     vol. 10, no. 56


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      This new feature that we introduce today 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.

34.   Cardinal Alexandre do Nascimento

          Cardinal Alexandre do Nascimento has experienced the gauntlet of Christianity - from the highs of receiving his red-hat at the age of 53 to being held hostage by Angolan guerrillas. Born on March 1, 1925 in Malanje, Angola in southwestern Africa, he was moved by the missionary priests in his village and felt the calling to the priesthood that saw him become one on December 20, 1952 at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome where he had studied at the Gregorian Pontifical University. After ordination he returned for post graduate work, receiving his doctorate in theology before returning to Africa where he taught dogmatic theology at the major seminary in Luanda on the west coast of Angola and preached at the Cathedral there where people flocked to hear him. He also became editor of O Apostolada, a Catholic newspaper for Angola's Catholics until civil war broke out in 1961 in a bitter war against Portuguese rule that would last until 1974. He was forced to take refuge in Lisbon, Portugal for ten years but returned to his native land in 1971 during a cease-fire actively involved with students and refugee groups in preserving the faith in war-torn Angola. He was named professor at the Pius XII Institute of Social Sciences as well as Secretary of the Angolan Caritas. On August 31, 1975, Pope Paul VI elevated him to bishop of Malanje, the place of his birth.

          In 1976 the Marxist MPLA, with military help from Cuba, had overtaken the government as civil war broke out again. Despite this unrest, on February 3, 1977 Pope Paul VI promoted Bishop do Nascimento to Archbishop of Lubango and appointed him Apostolic Administrator of Onjiva. The situation remained tense through the next several years and on October 15, 1982 Angolan guerillas captured Archbishop do Nascimento, using him as leverage to meet their demands and throwing the Catholic population into fear, prompting a massive prayer crusade for his release which thankfully came a month later on November 16th. Three months after his release Pope John Paul II rewarded him for his courage and perseverance by naming him in the Consistory of February 2, 1983. Upon receiving his red-hat he was given the titular church of St. Mark in Agro Laurentino and three years later on February 16, 1986 elevated to Archbishop of Luanda, a position he still holds. In addition, he serves on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Congregation for Catholic Education.

          Cardinal do Nascimento is the first cardinal ever from Angola, a country established for Catholicism in 1491. Like the persecutions of the early Christians, Angolan Catholics underwent tremendous hardships after the country gained its independence in the seventies for many of the foreign missionaries were forced out, leaving the laity with a severe shortage of priests to minister to them. Even today the situation in Angola remains very tense. Yet Catholics make up over half the population of this country of unrest with over six and a half million ministered to by considerably less than 500 priests. But, like the blood of the martyrs of the early Church, the seeds of Christianity are bearing fruits in this land with nearly a thousand seminarians ready to take their place in their native land guided by Cardinal do Nascimento the shining light in this land torn by the darkness of war and insurrection.

March 22, 1999       volume 10, no. 56


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