Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan named Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan, was on Wednesday named a cardinal by the Pope Benedict XVI, during his weekly general audience.

Onaiyekan, who was named alongside five others as new cardinals, will join the ranks of senior churchmen who will elect the next pope.

The other promoted prelates are Archbishop James Harvey, prefect of the papal household; Archbishop of Bogota, Colombia, Ruben Salazar Gomez; Archbishop of Manila, Philippines, Luis Antonio Tagle; Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites in Lebanon, His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai; and the major Archbishop of the Trivandrum of the Siro-Malankaresi in India, His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal.

Onaiyekan was born on January 29, 1944 in Kabba, Kogi State, to Bartholomew and Joann Onaiyekan. 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 priest on August 3 of that year, following a scholarship from Premier of Northern Region Sir Ahmadu Bello. Onaiyekan taught at St. Kizito's College, Isanlu in 1969. He became rector of St. Clement Junior Seminary in Lokoja in 1971, finished his Licentiate of Sacred Scripture in 1973 and earned his doctorate in 1976. He became Vice Rector of Ss. Peter & Paul in 1977.

The Pope said the new cardinals would be formally elevated at a consistory November 24.