September 18, 2009

Keep Your Eye On This Cardinal

Francis Arinze became the youngest Roman Catholic bishop in the world when he was ordained to the episcopate on 29 August 1965, at the age of 32. He was appointed titular bishop of Fissiana, and named coadjutor to the Archbishop of Onitsha, Nigeria. He attended the final session of the Second Vatican Council in that same year along with the 45 year old Archbishop of Krakow, Poland, Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II.

Following the death of the Archbishop of Onitsha in February 1967, Arinze was appointed to the position a few months later, on 26 June 1967. He was the first native African to head his diocese, succeeding Archbishop Charles Heery, an Irish missionary.

On 8 April 1985, Arinze resigned from his post in Onitsha, and the Pope named him a Cardinal Deacon, with the title of S. Giovanni della Pigna, little more than a month later in the consistory held on 25 May 1985; he was raised to the rank of Cardinal Priest in 1996. Two days following his elevation to Cardinal Deacon, Arinze was appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, holding the office until 1 October 2002, when he was named Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Despite the taboo about such discussions, he is the odds on favorite to be the next Pope.

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