News of his appointment was read by Pope Benedict XVI himself during this Wednesday’s general weekly audience before thousands of people assembled in St Peter’s Square. It was indeed a surprising dramatic drive to hear the Pope start to announce the six names of the prelate he has wanted to add on the list of cardinals. They are all practically candidates from the South and, for the first time in Church history the new list doesn’t contain any European appointee ! They come from each one of these countries : USA, Lebanon, Syria, India, Colombia, the Philippines, and Nigeria. And their official elevation will take place in Rome on November 24, 2012 and at that time the number of cardinal electors ( aged under 80) will top 122 cardinals instead of the required 120. And now, on the whole, out of the total number of all cardinals, non electors included, a good 60% were appointed by the late Pope John Paul II.
Cardinal John Olurunfemi Onaiyeki, a reputed world biblist and theologian, adds a new substantial weight to the College of Cardinals and an undisputed prestige to the very much respected African group ! This very intellectual and profoundly spiritual holy person is at present the Chairman of the Nigerian Episcopal Conference and is the retired President of the Nigerian powerful Christian Association. He was once a teacher at the famous St Kizito’s College in Central Nigeria before teaching in seminaries. Then he was sent abroad to do a Doctorate in Theology and his works in the field have turned him in a very prominent world-renowned biblica scholar who for the last five years has been an active member of the Pontifical International Theological Commission !!
He has published a lot and he was a Peace Laureate of the Pax Christi International. Cardinal Olurunfemi has often been noted for his action against religious extremism in Nigeria and he is the initiator of a special scheme which has been designed to embrace all the youth in the country in order to try to bring them together and work out special projects that would eventually seal that dangerous Islamo-Christial gap which religious extremism has used to incite violence in the country !
He’s the fifth Nigerian to be named cardinal and on his elevation in Rome thousands of Nigerians both from home and the diaspora, and others, will converge on Rome to give him a rousing cheery greeting that will remind the Romans the incessant ululations the thousands of Congolese gave to their very popularly loved Archbishop of Kinshasa, His Eminence Laurent Pasinya Monsengwo !
Powerful Olurunfemi will draw the same kind of cheers that will most likely quake the Eternal City Cheers and Congs to Olurunfemi ! And hats off to our very much beloved Pope Benedict XVI for the glory he has willingly conferred on Africa through Olurunfemi’s great appointment !
Dr G.H. Kkolokolo ( Paris / France)