At Thomas More College, Not Obama But Arinze
should guide the mass media. While the Church has no mandate from Christ to produce recipes for the solution of political or economic questions, the Church has the duty to invoke the light of the Gospel on various areas of human endeavor, on matters of right and wrong and on the morality of human acts in general. (Deus Cariias Est, 28).
“In the complicated world of today, where all kinds of ideas are struggling for the right of citizenship, a university student needs a clear and viable orientation on the relationship between religion and life. The Catholic College or University is ideally positioned to help him see the light and equip himself for a significant contribution in society.”
The cardinal concluded: “If a Catholic college or university answers to its vocation in the ways outlined above, then it will be educating, forming and releasing into society model citizens who will be a credit to their families, their college, the Church and the State. It will prepare for us members of Congress or the Senate who will not say ‘I am a Catholic, but...’ but rather those who will say ‘I am a Catholic, and therefore...’”
As part of commencement exercises, Cardinal Arinze was granted an honorary doctorate of philosophy by the College, and presented with a commemorative icon of the Holy Family painted by Thomas More College’s artist-in-residence, David Clayton—who teaches icon and baroque painting to students, twelve of whose icons were presented at commencement to visiting parents.
Educated by Irish missionaries, Cardinal Arinze advanced to All Hallows Seminary in Onitsha, Nigeria, where he earned his degree in philosophy and briefly taught. In 1955 he went to Rome to study Theology at the Pontifical Urban University. He was ordained a priest in November of 1958, and earned his doctorate in sacred theology summa cum laude in 1960. The subject of his dissertation and one of his earliest published works was an examination of Ibo sacrifice in traditional African religion as a precursor to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Cardinal Arinze spent the early 1960s teaching liturgy, logic, and philosophy at Bigard Memorial Seminary. After a brief period of studies in London, he began working as secretary of education for his diocese in eastern Nigeria. In 1965, Pope Paul VI nominated him to be coadjutor bishop of Onitsha. At that time, he was the youngest Roman Catholic bishop in the world. He attended the final session of the Second Vatican Council, where he made the acquaintance of the Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla. In 1967 he was consecrated Archbishop of Onitsha. For the next three years, then Archbishop Arinze stood as a beacon of peace during one of the most violent civil wars in African history. For three years worked with all leaders Christian, Muslim, and polytheists to care for refugees and re-establish peace in the region. Over the next two decades, then Archbishop Arinze over saw the formation of an entirely Nigerian clergy and through his steady stream of pastoral letters encouraged the application of the Church’s social and ethical teachings in wider regions, especially in politics, inter-religious dialogue, and the life of the family.
In 1979, Pope John Paul II appointed then Archbishop Arinze the pro-president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He has worked tirelessly in this area to advance and deepen sensitive and peaceful co-operation between various sects, religions, and the Catholic Faith. He has been a faithful explicator of the meaning and responsibility found in the Church’s role of the lumen gentium (light of the peoples). In 1985, he was elevated to the office of cardinal-deacon. In 1994, Cardinal Arinze presided over the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. In 1996, he was raised to the rank of cardinal-priest. In 2002, Cardinal Arinze was named the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, a position which he held under both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI until his retirement on December 9, 2008.
Cardinal Arinze is the author of 10 books available in English. He has been an active force for catechesis within families and has produced over 1,700 video lectures through the Apostolate for Family Consecration, a series widely distributed in the English and Spanish languages. He continues to be sought as a lecturer throughout the world. Thomas More College was deeply honored to host the cardinal and offer his wise words to its graduating seniors and the broader college community.
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The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts is dedicated to providing a Catholic education to students of all faiths. However, it recognizes that reflection on the specific nature of liberal education has been entrusted to the Church in a special way and so assumes as its task the rediscovery and articulation of this tradition in our own time.
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