By Nwachukwu Egbunike
Pope Benedict XVI today created Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Metropolitan and Archbishop of Abuja Ecclesiastical See, a Cardinal. The Pope will grant Onaiyekan and five others the red hat in a consistory that will be held on November 24, 2012.
The full list is as follows:
1. Archbishop James Michael Harvey, prefect of the papal household since 1998
2. Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, head of the Maronite Catholic Church since 2011
3. Major Archbishop Baselios Cleemis (Isaac) Thottunkal, head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church since 2007
4. Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja (Nigeria)
5. Archbishop Jesús Salazar Gómez of Bogota and
6. Archbishop Luís Antonio Tagle of Manila.
Archbishop Onaiyekan will join fellow Nigerians – Francis Cardinal Arinze and Anthony Cardinal Okogie in the Catholic College of Cardinals.
Onaiyekan hails from Kabba, Kogi State. He attended St. Mary’s Catholic School in Kabba from 1949 until 1956, Mount St. Michael’s Secondary School in Aliade, Benue State from 1957 until 1962, and Ss. Peter & Paul Major Seminary in Bodija, Ibadan from 1963 until 1965. He completed his religious studies in Rome in 1969, and was ordained as a priest on August 3 of that year.
He was formerly Bishop of Ilorin, President of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria and the Christian Association of Nigeria respectively.