Skip to comments.The African cardinal tipped to succeed the Pope
Posted on 04/03/2005 12:34:54 PM PDT by Perdogg
Lagos: The fourth-ranking cardinal in the Vatican and the African with the best chance of succeeding Pope John Paul II began his stellar church career as a child of poor pagan parents in a mud-brick bungalow in the forests of southern Nigeria.
Cardinal Francis Arinze, the 72-year-old Prefect of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, is seen by many as a credible candidate to become the first African to rule the Holy See since the death of Gelasius I in 496 AD.
And if the college of cardinals sitting in the Sistine Chapel does decide that the Holy Spirit has chosen Arinze to lead the Church, the tiny Nigerian farming village of Eziowelle might well become a place of pilgrimage for the world's hundreds of millions of Catholics.
Pilgrims would be best advised to come in the early months of the year, however, as when the rains return at the end of April the track is all but impassible, explained the village priest Father Philip Chinedu Nwafor as he drove his battered old Mercedes Benz into town earlier this year.
"The state government has promised to repair the road," he said, as school children and villagers called out "Father" as he passed along the bumpy track the way to the building at the heart of Eziowelle's 6,000-strong community; the Saint Edward Roman Catholic Church.
It might be a while before the road is repaired - Anambra State is in such crisis that lawmakers meet among the ruins of a state assembly building burned down last year by political thugs - but Eziowelle has something else to be proud of as the world begins to wonder about the papal succession.
"His name will work magic for us. We cannot say when this will be, but we are hopeful that Arinze's name will soon begin to bring the good things of life to the village," declared 68-year-old Celestina Emecheta, who was born four years after Eziowelle's most famous son.
The house where he was born is still standing; a somewhat ramshackle bungalow of mud-brick and rusting corrugated iron, painted in faded chocolate brown and framed on one side by a mango and a pawpaw tree.
A newer, concrete family home stands close by, but Arinze's fame has not brought riches to his relatives. The grave of the cardinal's mother is marked by a simple heap of dark red laterite soil.
"He does not want an elaborate grave for his parents and this grave as it is is an ample demonstration of his simplicity and humility, qualities for which he is known," said Father Philip as he showed a reporter around the village.
Once a year, in August, Cardinal Arinze leaves the marble halls of the Vatican and returns to Eziowelle to stay in the parsonage and celebrate mass in the humble surroundings of Saint Edward's church.
It was here, as an eight-year-old child of parents who worshipped the traditional deities of the Igbo people, that Arinze first heard the teaching of the church from the Reverend Cyprian Micahel Iwene Tansi, a missionary who became his mentor and was in 1998 beatified by Pope John Paul II.
Since those days the village has become a devout and energetic Catholic community, proud to have sent a cardinal, nine priests, 14 reverend sisters and one reverend brother to do the work of the church.
Now, perhaps, Eziowelle could become the first village in sub-Saharan Africa to send a Pope to the Vatican. Many feel Arinze would be the perfect candidate.
He was ordained a priest in November 1958 and eight years later became Africa's youngest bishop, leading the Catholics of the market city of Onitsha, a trading centre on the lowest downstream crossing of the mighty Niger River.
He became an archbishop in 1967 and stayed in Nigeria through its brutal civil war, in which Arinze's Igbo people faced the Nigeria federal army in a losing battle, which saw around a million people die of disease and starvation.
In 1985, the pope summoned him to Rome to work in the Curia - the church's governing body - and he won a reputation as an able diplomat and a staunch defender of the conservative values championed by the present pontiff.
He became an expert on Islam and led the Vatican's interfaith dialogue, a job which some feel could be his key qualification.
John Paul II's reign will be remembered for his role in facing down Communism and championing the cause of Eastern Europe.
The next 20 years will may see the church seeking way a way to live alongside an increasingly restive Muslim world.
Whether this record will be enough to land him the top job remains to be seen, but in Eziowelle his neighbours have faith that the Holy Spirit will make the right choice.
"God put Arinze there as number four in the Catholic hierarchy. We are glad at this. We are happy and will accept whatever God has planned for him," said Chief Igwe Michael Okonkwo-Etusi, the traditional ruler of the village
Maybe Ff is not so wrong about other religiously incorrect proclamations...
This would be a "good thing", IMHO.
Georgetown Faculty Offended by Cardinal's Speech by Tim Drake
WASHINGTON A Vatican cardinal repeating Catholic doctrine during commencement exercises at a Catholic university does not seem a recipe for controversy. Yet when Cardinal Francis Arinze explained Church teaching at Georgetown University on May 17, students and faculty complained. One Georgetown theologian, Theresa Sanders, walked off Stage in protest during the ceremony. Sanders teaches such Georgetown courses as "Religion and Film," "Saints in Film" and the popular general-education theology course "The Problem of God." She did not return the Register's calls for comment.
"In many parts of the world, the family is under siege," said Cardinal Arinze in the section of his speech that appeared to have offended Sanders and students who walked out of the commencement exercises. "It is opposed by an anti-life mentality as is seen in contraception, abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. It is scorned and banalized by pornography, desecrated by fornication and adultery, mocked by homosexuality, sabotaged by irregular unions and cut in two by Divorce."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a letter protesting the speech was signed by about 70 faculty members and delivered to Jane McAuliffe, dean of the university's school of arts and sciences. McAuliffe, a specialist in Islamic studies, invited Cardinal Arinze, president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, to speak at the school's graduation ceremonies.
read more here
That alone would get my vote.
Outfit almost looks like what's worn by my local MacDonalds servers.
He's my choice for the next Pope.
He frequently visits http://familyland.org
Read more here.
Good post, my kind of guy, too!
I wonder if he would return Bernard Cardinal Law to Boston.
Arinze sounds like a worthy successor to John Paul II.
But will the Italians block his ascension to the papal throne?
Is he too pro-Islam? That would be my concern.
As I understand it, Arinze's been based in Rome for many years.
Yes, but has he made friends or enemies among the "in" group of Cardinals with his strict traditionalism?
Imagine that, expecting people to follow the Church's teachings in their daily life!!!
and elect = that elects
There goes all the "Is the Pope...?" jokes.
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