My initial reaction is of gratitude to God, says Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria. He is one of the six men – the only one from Africa – who will be created cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI during the November 24th Consistory, announced earlier Wednesday by the Pope himself.
He spoke to Vatican Radio’s Helene Destombes just after the announcement on the sidelines of the Synod of Bishops for the New Evangelization. “I see it purely as God’s grace, certainly not as any reward for any good action. I’m not the best archbishop in the world, and God has chosen me. Also thanks to the Pope who has decided to include me in this special group of servants of the Church”. “It means, of course, that I have a greater responsibility not only for the Archdiocese of Abuja but also as a collaborator of His Holiness. To work with him in his universal responsibility. That is a major issue that I have to pray seriously about. The Church leader has a wealth of experience in interreligious dialogue, particularly in the African context. In fact, his synod intervention on October 19th concentrated on the idea of evangelization and religions working together for peace.
He notes Nigeria is often the scene of violent clashes of both religious and social origin. However, he adds, there are also signs of concrete hope.“Coming from a country like Nigeria, we have been doing our best to promote dialogue and an apostolate of peace-making and peace-building with Muslims. This is because I, personally, believe, not only do I believe, but it is my experience, that the vast majority of Nigerians want to live in peace. We are all citizens of the same country, with the same problems and difficulties but we also have a common ground in terms of spiritual values and even moral principles.
So it should not be difficult for us to work together to tackle our nation’s problems. And I do intend to continue along those lines, particularly as this is the line indicated by my Church, starting from Vatican II, right up to Ecclesia in Africa. It is the Magisterium of all the Popes, right up to Benedict XVI. And I believe it is the will of God for us.
Here is the text of Cardinal-designate Onaiyekan’s intervention: Source: The Vatican today
”The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said”. ALISON.