Who is a “Cardinal” ?
1. Mass Server: little boys who stay round the altar helping the priest during Mass.
2. Seminarian: some of these mass servers and other little boys who pass twofold serious exams are admitted into the seminary and are called seminarians. The junior seminary lasts for 8 years; the senior seminary lasts for 9 years. In all, 17 years more or less.
3. Deacon: The last year in the seminary, those chosen are ordained deacons. They remain deacons for about 6 months.
4. Priests: The deacons who are chosen are ordained priests. This brings to an end the long seminary journey. Our Lord Jesus Christ does all His saving works through a priest.
5. Bishop: very few priests, one or two, after a long time in priesthood, are chosen and ordained bishops to take charge of a diocese.
6. Cardinal: very very few bishops are chosen from around the world to be made Cardinals. These Cardinals are the ones who stand the chances of becoming Pope. When a Pope dies, they’re the ones who gather in the Vatican in Rome for a session called “conclave” (which means ‘with keys’).
They are locked inside a chapel there with keys for many days praying the Holy Spirit to help them discern the next Pope from among them. Igboland has had only one Cardinal called Francis Cardinal Arinze, made a Cardinal in 1985. He is still in Rome, this year is his 90th birthday. So, our new Cardinal created yesterday, Peter Cardinal Okpaleke is the second Cardinal Igboland is having.
7. Pope: a Pope is the one who succeeds St. Peter the Apostle. Since Peter’s time, there have been 266 popes till today.
So, our new cardinal is papabile, this word means that he is one of the eligibles to possibly become a Pope one day.
—Fr. Gabriel Okeke