Posted by News Express | 30 November 2015 | 4,660 times
Francis Cardinal Arinze of the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha, Anambra State, has become the first African Catholic Bishop and Cardinal to celebrate the episcopal golden jubilee.
The Cardinal was joined by the Catholic community from all over the world in a holy mass to mark his 20 years as a bishop and 30 years as a cardinal in the Roman Catholic ministry.
From the Vatican City, the message from the Supreme Pontiff delivered by the Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha Archdiocese, Most Reverend Dennis Isiuzo, described Cardinal Arinze as a venerable brother and one who has with great dedication and humility, carried out his priestly assignments since admission into the Roman Curia.
The President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, and his counterpart, the Papal Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Augustine Kasuja, poured encomiums on the octogenarian priest, saying that Nigeria is blessed for producing a rare ecclesiastical personality.
Welcoming visitors from all parts of the world to the event, a visibly happy Anambra Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, declared the state the safest in Nigeria. He said: “I welcome you to enjoy the peace and tranquility we have in our state. As you celebrate with His Eminence, Cardinal Francis Arinze, I want you all to know that Anambra is the safest state in Nigeria, and by the grace of God will continue to be so in the years ahead.”
Paid glowing tribute to Cardinal Arinze, the governor stated: “I am very happy to be at this ceremony to honour one of our own. His Eminence is first in many areas; he is one of the few who became Bishop after just seven years after his ordination as Priest, he is now over 30 years as a Cardinal and was almost a Pope. I am also happy that Blessed Iwene Tansi is from Anambra State and also my Uncle. God has kept the Cardinal healthy in his vineyard, and we look forward to the day he will be celebrating the 100 years of Episcopal ordination.”
In his tribute to the celebrant, the former Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon, who embraced with Cardinal Arinze, thanked God for the grace He gave him to shepherd the flock Catholic faithful and Christians over years. As Gowon put it: “You are my brother in Christ and I pray that God will continue to bless and keep you.”
Earlier, Apostolic Nunsio to Nigeria, Most Rev. Augustine Kasujja commended the celebrant and observed: “I have no doubt that there is God’s invisible hand in His Eminence Cardinal Francis Arinze. Today’s celebration coincides with the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Africa and also a time when the largest number of Africans in Uganda would be canonised.”
On his part, President of Conference of Catholic Bishop of Nigeria, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, described Francis Cardinal Arinze as “a wonderful ecclesiastical personality.”
•With additional reports by Channels TV. Photo shows Cardinal Arinze.
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