Francis Cardinal Arinze Francis Cardinal Arinze
Prefect of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Roman Curia
Cardinal Priest of S Giovanni della Pigna
Nov 01, 1932
May 25, 1985
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English Pope Contender: Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria
Apr 17, 2005
The same year Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria was ordained a priest, an older colleague was undergoing psychiatric care, deemed mentally unbalanced by his desire to incorporate African rites into the ritual of the Catholic Church.

(Associated Press, April 16th, 2005) Years later, after the upheaval that ousted Latin and brought myriad local languages into Catholic churches, Arinze still was holding out.

He would allow African drums to be played in only two of the many parishes he administered as a bishop.

Through decades of change, Arinze, 72, has remained a strong voice of the establishment, leading to his rise to the No. 4 position in the Vatican and a chance to become the first African pope.

John Paul gave Arinze custody of the church’s style of worship, sacraments and liturgy. Arinze also helped mediate the church’s rapprochement with other religions at a time when fundamentalist Islamic and Protestant sects replaced communism as the biggest challenge to Catholic proselytizing.

Arinze shepherded a flock that saw the act of worship transformed from a formal Latin recitation interspersed with equally foreign European chants into a riotous celebration where priests proceed up the aisle surrounded by gyrating, spear-wielding dancers and cathedrals resonate to thump of drums.

His concept of change has limits. A collection of pastoral letters published in 1983 exhort against straying from church dogma on abortion, sex and chastity. As the church was preparing to tell married adherents it was acceptable to enjoy sex, he counseled caution.

“Even among the married, sexual satisfaction must not be sought in a way which disregards man’s character as a person and degrades him to the animal level,” he wrote.

At a 2003 lecture at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Arinze drew gasps and protests when he lumped homosexuality together with pornography.

Colleagues describe Arinze as focused, spiritual and tireless but also flexible and a good listener.
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