The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Archbishop John Onaiyekan, was recently appointed a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. As the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) noted in a congratulatory letter to the distinguished cleric, the appointment had duly placed Onaiyekan on the global map of Christendom.
This appointment, which transcends the spiritual girth of Onaiyekan, is also a recognition and a consolidation of Nigeria’s contributions to the world’s religious architecture. It is indeed a thing of joy to our country irrespective of our denominational inclinations which inform the country’s secularity. We have the conviction that this appointment will serve as a divine boost for Onaiyekan to further advance those attributes that earned him the spiritual elevation. Your Catholic gigantism is underscored by your lack of religious impulsiveness unlike most other clerics who seek attention and earthly recompense.
The grandness of it all is that you remain an eminence of national renown with spiritual boundlessness and because you have feared the Lord all these past years, the fountain of life is now bestowed on you by virtue of your latest status. On a global perspective, the significance of your uplift is further amplified by the fact that you are now one of the “Cardinal electors.” In other words, the greater relevance of your current circumstance is that your position qualifies you to be among those who will choose Pope Benedict’s successor.
Of course, the nobility of this assignment in Christendom is appreciated with awe and reverence by humanity – both by Catholic and non-Catholic faithful. We have no doubt that your priestly candour that characterised your service these past years will positively impact on your new responsibilities. Considering the exalted and sacred nature of your appointment, we commend Pope Benedict on his decision to select you for this position and the belief His Holiness has in your capacity to discharge the functions that go with this office.
Your eminence, this is a clear testament to your selfless commitment to Catholicism—and by extrapolation religiosity—which has helped immensely in shaping lives that strive after eschatological pursuits, especially at a time that the world’s moral compass is rapidly becoming blurred because of erosion of values. We have the strong belief that you cannot disappoint the Pontiff who has reposed great confidence in you by virtue of this select honour of cardinal bestowment.
We congratulate Cardinal Onaiyekan on his appointment and wish him an enduring life of continued exemplary spirituality. May God be with you as you go for the cardinal ordination on November 24, 2012. Nigerians bask in the euphoric glory of this your consideration for this realm of service to God and mankind. Onaiyekan, born on January 29, 1944, in Kabba, Kogi State, to Bartholomew and Joan Onaiyekan, was educated at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Kabba between 1949 and 1956.
He proceeded to Mount St. Michael’s Secondary School in Aliade, Benue State, from 1957 to 1962, and St. Peter & Paul Major Seminary in Bodija, Ibadan, from 1963 to 1965, for consolidation of his scholastic quest. In furtherance of his pursuit for higher education, he travelled to Rome where he completed his religious studies in 1969 and was ordained priest on August 3 of the same year.
This academic attainment was facilitated by a scholarship from the then Premier of Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello. We enjoin other Catholic prelates to emulate the attributes of Cardinal Onaiyekan so that in the years ahead, they, too, would be found worthy of elevation to this glorious height in Christendom. Once again, congratulations Cardinal Onaiyekan! God will continually prosper you and grant you fellowship mercies in His vineyard as you harvest souls for eternal heavenly paradise.