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Africa’s new Cardinals: Who are they and where are they from?

Africa’s new Cardinals: Who are they and where are they from?

Last Sunday, Pope Francis announced the names of Archbishops and Bishops to be elevated as Cardinals on 14 February 2015. Among the new Cardinals will be five retired Archbishops and Bishops whom Pope Francis said have been “distinguished for their pastoral charity in the service of the Holy See and of the Church.”  

Of these new Cardinals, three are from Africa. These are, Ethiopian Archbishop of Addis Ababa, Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel who is 66 years old; Cape Verdean Bishop of Santiago de Cabo Verde, Arlindo Gomes Furtado, 65 and the retired Mozambican Bishop Julio Duarte Langa the emeritus Bishop of Xai-Xai (pronounced Shy –shy). He is 87 years old.

Several people have commented on one thing that seems to unite and distinguish the three new African Cardinals: their simplicity.

Once when Vatican Radio’s Portuguese Service spoke to Bishop Duarte Langa about what it felt like to be appointed Bishop in 1976, he characteristically remarked, “Well, I think the Holy Father at the time was looking for someone better and not finding anyone exceptional he just settled for what was available –that’s how they chose me!” He would go on to become a much loved Bishop for 28 years.

At some point during that time, he was appointed Bishop responsible for diocesan priests in Mozambique. His time in office is fondly remembered. He was seen as a “caring Bishop and a loving father-figure” by many Mozambican diocesan priests.

The new Cape Verdean Cardinal, Arlindo Furtado has spent most of his pastoral life as a parish priest, teacher and professor of various disciplines before he became Bishop. Trained in Portugal and Rome, he taught Scripture and related studies.

As a Bishop, Furtado is praised not only for his pastoral zeal but also for taking a keen interest in the pastoral welfare of Cape Verdean communities in the diaspora. It could well be said that he lives his episcopal motto: “Jesus, the Good Shepherd.”

Of the three, perhaps the Archbishop of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Berhaneyesus Souraphiel is better known. The Cardinal-designate is a gracious and jovial man. He is a very engaging speaker with a healthy sense of humour.

Archbishop Berhaneyesus is the current Chairman of the association of African Bishops called AMECEA. The association brings together more than 250 African Bishops in the Eastern and Central regions of Africa under the banner of Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA).

When the people in Eastern Africa found his Ethiopian name “Berhaneyesus” too cumbersome to pronounce, they simply christened him, “Bwana Yesu” which in Swahili means Lord Jesus. He laughs heartily at this and when in East Africa introduces himself as such.

While attending the Synod on the Family in Rome, last October, the Archbishop of Addis Ababa spoke to Vatican Radio’s English Service for Africa. He spoke of his belief that Africa needs to hold strongly to positive values of the family.  He was also of the view that the AMECEA pastoral programme of Small Christian Communities be used to entrench these values.

(Fr. Paul Samasumo)

e-mail: engafrica@vatiradio.va


(from Vatican Radio)

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