Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis, yesterday in Onitsha, Anambra State, extolled the virtues of His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze, who celebrated the golden jubilee of his Episcopal ordination.
The Pope, who was represented by the Papal Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Augustine Kassuja at the well-attended Pontifical Mass at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, described Arinze as God’s gift to humanity.
Cardinal Arinze, who retired at the Vatican as the Prefect of the Congregation of the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament, served from 2002 to 2008.
In a homily, the Apostolic Nuncio to Central Africa, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, described Cardinal Arinze’s spiritual milestones as an evidence of divine presence in his service to humanity.
He appealed to the congregation to join him in eulogizing Cardinal Arinze with such names that befitted his achievements such as Ozi Uzo, (the leaders) Obubelu Chukwkwu Uzo, (One who puts God first), Ome Mgbo Oji , (One who gives out when he has) Ugo Eji Ejemba, (The Pride of a nation), among many other names.
Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon expressed happiness for the growth of Christianity and described Cardinal Arinze as one of the great minds that contributed to the growth and spread of Christianity in the world.
Elated Cardinal Arinze, in his response, thanked the Pope and the Vatican for giving him the opportunity to serve God from Onitsha to the Vatican, and Dr Gowon for attending the ceremony.
He described Gowon as a good Christian and a man full of humility, recalling that immediately after the civil war, he visited Gowon with Monsignor Obiukwu to plead with him not to drive the missionaries away from Nigeria and how he (Gowon) received them.
He however regretted that the then Federal Government had already taken a decision on the matter before their visit, adding that Gowon could personally not reverse the decision.