Archbishop John Oniayekan and five other non-Europeans were consecrated Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday, November 24, 2012. The Pope decorated the new cardinals with biretta hats as part of induction of cardinals in Rome. The cardinals are shouldered with the responsibility to elect a successor to the incumbent Pope. The Pope who is 85-year-old, chaired the ceremony in St Peter’s Basilica where the six prelates were elevated to the Catholic Church’s College of Cardinals.
The new Cardinals are: John Onaiyekan from Nigeria, James Michael Harvey, America, Bechara Boutros ai-Rahi, Lebanon, Baselios Cleemi Thottukal, India, Ruben Salazar Gomez, Colobia and Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines. Pope Benedict XVI, when announcing the names of the new cardinals in October, told the bishops that he wanted to show that “the Church belongs to all peoples, speaks all languages”. Saturday’s consecration of the six new cardinals was to fill the vacuum created by the death of several cardinals in recent months and will bring the number of those eligible to vote to the required maximum of 120. Cardinals must be under 80 years old to participate in a Papal’s election but they can stay on as non-voting cardinals after the age of 80 years.
The College of Cardinals now has 62 European Cardinals, 14 North Americans, 21 South Americans, 11 Africans and 11 Asians.
I wish Cardinal John Onaiyekan a successful stay at the Vatican City.