24 Nov 2012


History is made today in the annals of Nigerian  Church. Archbishop John Onaiyekan joins the college of the Cardinals. In the just concluded ordinary public consistory held in Vatican on Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI created six cardinals among whom is Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria. 
Pope Benedict XVI took the universality of the Church as the theme of his allocution to the participants in the Consistory during which he created six new Cardinals: Archbishop James M. Harvey, Prefect of the Papal Household; His Beatitude, Bechara Boutros Raï, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch in Lebanon; His Beatitude, Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum in India and head of the Syro-Malankara Church; Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria; Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogotá, Colombia; and Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila in the Philippines.

The Holy Father focused on the meaning of the word, “Catholic” – “A word,” he said, “which indicates an essential feature of the Church and her mission.” The Holy Father went on to say, “What makes the Church catholic is the fact that Christ in his saving mission embraces all humanity.” Pope Benedict explained that the universality of the Church flows from the universality of God’s unique plan of salvation for the world, and that this universal character emerges clearly on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fills the first Christian community with his presence, so that the Gospel may spread to all nations, causing the one People of God to grow in all peoples. “Situated within the context and the perspective of the Church’s unity and universality,” said Pope Benedict, “is the College of Cardinals: it presents a variety of faces, because it expresses the face of the universal Church.” The Holy Father went on to explain that in Saturday’s Consistory, he wanted especially to highlight the fact that the Church is the Church of all peoples. 
Welcoming the assembly and the representatives of different countries,  the The Holy Father said , I cordially greet the official Delegations of the different countries, the bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and lay faithful of the various diocesan communities and all those who share in the joy of the new members of the College of Cardinals – their family, friends and co-workers. The new Cardinals, who represent different dioceses around the world, are henceforth associated by a special title with the Church of Rome, and in this way they reinforce the spiritual bonds that unite the whole Church, brought to life by Christ and gathered around the Successor of Peter. At the same time, today’s rite expresses the supreme value of fidelity.

Addressing and exhorting the new cardinals, The Pope said, "Indeed, the oath that you are about to take, venerable brothers, contains words filled with profound spiritual and ecclesial significance: “I promise and I swear, from now on and for as long as I live, to remain faithful to Christ and his Gospel, constantly obedient to the Holy Apostolic Roman Church”. And when you receive the red biretta, you will be reminded that it means “you must be ready to conduct yourselves with fortitude, even to the shedding of your blood, for the increase of the Christian faith, for the peace and well-being of the people of God”. Whereas the consignment of the ring is accompanied by the admonition: “Know that your love for the Church is strengthened by your love for the Prince of the Apostles”.
In these gestures and the words that accompany them, we see an indication of the identity that you assume today in the Church. From now on, you will be even more closely and intimately linked to the See of Peter: the titles and deaconries of the churches of Rome will remind you of the bond that joins you, as members by a very special title, to this Church of Rome, which presides in universal charity. Particularly through the work you do for the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, you will be my valued co-workers, first and foremost in my apostolic ministry for the fullness of catholicity, as Pastor of the whole flock of Christ and prime guarantor of its doctrine, discipline and morals". 

Dear friends, The Holy Father concludes, " let us praise the Lord, who “with manifold gifts does not cease to enrich his Church spread throughout the world" and reinvigorates her in the perennial youth that he has bestowed upon her. To him we entrust the new ecclesial service of these our esteemed and venerable Brothers, that they may bear courageous witness to Christ, with a lively growing faith and unceasing sacrificial love". 

< Rev. Fr. Val. Onwunjiogu, reporting from Rome.

19 Nov 2012


Msgr. Jose Bettencourt,

OTTAWA, Ontario - Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Msgr. Jose Bettencourt, a native of Portugal who grew up in Ottawa, as the Holy See's head of protocol.
Msgr. Bettencourt is only the second non-Italian to hold the position. The post had been held by Msgr. Fortunatus Nwachukwu, a Nigerian diplomat, who was named Nov. 12 as apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua.
In his position Msgr. Bettencourt is in charge of the protocol involving the Holy See's relationships with other states, from welcoming visiting heads of state at the airport to dealings with diplomats and ambassadors accredited to the Vatican. His role includes overseeing how heads of state and others participate in ceremonies such as canonizations and consistories and ensuring that visitors to the Vatican are welcomed and relaxed.
Before his appointment, Msgr. Bettencourt worked closely in organizing papal audiences, briefing the pope and visiting bishops, heads of state and lay people for the visits. He has served in the Vatican's Secretariat of State since 2002.
Born in 1962 in Velas, Azores, Portugal, Msgr. Bettencourt grew up in Ottawa, where he attended both elementary and secondary school. He graduated from the University of Ottawa before pursuing theological studies at Dominican College and St. Paul University, where he studied for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1993.
 < By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News

12 Nov 2012


The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Msgr. Fortunatus Nwachukwu, chief of protocol at the Secretariat of State, as Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua. A priest of the Diocese of Aba in Nigeria, he has a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy (Urban University, Rome), and completed a Doctorate in Sacred Scriptures at the Biblical Institute in Rome, before transferring to the Jesuit Faculty, Sankt Georgen, in Frankfurt, specializing in Old Testament textual criticism. He obtained doctorate degrees in Systematic Theology and in Canon Law, respectively from the Pontifical Urban University and the University of St Thomas Aquinas in Rome. He was called into the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1994, after attending the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome. He served as Secretary at the Apostolic Nunciatures in Ghana, Togo and Benin, in Paraguay, in Algeria and Tunisia and as Counselor at the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations at Geneva. In 2006 he became the Desk Officer for human rights and United Nations Organizations in the Vatican Secretariat of State. In 2007 he was appointed Head of Protocol of the Secretariat of State of His Holiness. His publications include The Birth of Systematic Theology in Contemporary Black Africa, The Courage to Change: Take Off Your Shoes, as well as numerous articles and a number of reflections on theology in Africa, published both in L’Osservatore Romano and various periodicals. He speaks various languages including English, Italian, German, Modern Hebrew, French, Spanish and Arabic.

Hearty congratulations to Monsignor!! A German adage says that the reward for good work is more work. And that explains why he has continued to climb in status and responsibilities. The best is yet to come. May the good Lord continue to guide and protect him, and may His graces continue to move him from strength to strength, to the glory of His name and the good of all mankind, Amen.