Cardinal Francis Arinze is a Nigerian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, an African who for a time was considered to be a possible successor to Pope John Paul II. He was Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments from 2002 to 2008.

Francis Arinze was ordained a priest at the age of 25 and became bishop just seven years later when he was 32. He was named cardinal in 1985, when he was 52, making him one of the highest-ranking African clerics at the time.

Arinze was one of the principal advisors to Pope John Paul II and was considered a potential successor to Pope John Paul II before the 2005 papal conclave, which elected Pope Benedict XVI.

Early Life And Ministry

Born November 1, 1932, in Eziowelle, Anambra, Nigeria to an animist family, Francis converted from the religion to Catholicism and was baptized on his ninth birthday (1 November 1941) by Father Cyprian Michael Tansi, who was beatified by John Paul II in 1998. His parents later converted to Catholicism.

At age 15, he entered All Hallows Seminary of Onitsha from which he graduated and earned a philosophy degree in 1950. His father was initially opposed to his entering the seminary, but after seeing how much Francis enjoyed it, he encouraged him. Arinze stayed at All Hallows until 1953 to teach. In 1955, he went to Rome to study theology at the Pontifical Urban University, where he ultimately earned a doctorate in sacred theology summa cum laude. On 23 November 1958, at the chapel of the university, Arinze was ordained to the priesthood by Gregorio Pietro Agagianian, pro-prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith

Theology of Cardinal Arinze

Francis Arinze is known as a theological conservative, something common to Catholics from the southern hemisphere. Arinze has been heavily involved with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Inquisition, and supports efforts to maintain strict doctrinal integrity in the Catholic church.

He has said of gay men with ponytails and earrings that he would like to “wash their heads with holy water.”

Francis Arinze became the youngest Roman Catholic bishop in the world when he was consecrated 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. He became Archbishop of Onitsha on 26 June 1967. He was the first native African to head his diocese, succeeding Archbishop Charles Heerey, an Irish missionary.

Publications And List Of Books By Cardinal Francis Arinze

Cardinal Francis Arinze has authored several books along with a complete “Consecration and Truth Catechetical Program” for children and adults.

Below are some publications by Cardinal Francis Arinze:

  • The Family Catechism on Tape, Apostolate for Family Consecration
  • Divine Providence: God’s Design in Your Life (2005)
  • Building Bridges: Interreligious Dialogue on the Path to World Peace (2004)
  • Cardinal Reflections: Active Participation and the Liturgy (2005)
  • The Holy Eucharist (Our Sunday Visitor, 2001) ISBN 0-87973-978-9
  • The Church in Dialogue: Walking With Other Believers (1990)
  • Meeting Other Believers: The Risks and Rewards of Interreligious Dialogue (1998)
  • Celebrating the Holy Eucharist (2006)
  • Religions for Peace (Darton, Longman & Todd, 2002)
  • God’s Invisible Hand: The Life and Work of Francis Cardinal Arinze, Ignatius Press, 2006
  • Great Figures in Salvation History: David and Solomon, an interview with Cardinal Arinze and Roy Schoemann, Ignatius Press, 2006

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