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Nigerian cardinal downplays Curial intrigues, cardinals' rhetoric

March 05, 2013

Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, has expressed some frustration at the speeches delivered by cardinals during the congregation meetings this week, and added that the Vatileaks scandal is “not a big deal” in his estimation.

“There are those who consider the running of the Roman Curia very important, but I’m more interested in how we’re able to project the message of Jesus to our people,” Cardinal Onaiyekan told John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter.

Regarding the meetings of cardinals in the “congregations” being held this week in preparation for the conclave, the Nigerian prelate said: “No matter how brilliant you may think your speech is, do we really need it?”

Cardinal Onaiyekan—who is described by Allen as a gregarious, outsized personality with a formidable intellect—said that “there’s nothing to stop an African from being the Pope.” However, he said that he had not seen evidence of a “voting bloc” of African cardinals, or in fact of any geographical bloc. Cardinal Onaiyekan downplayed his own chances of being elected Roman Pontiff, but said that the people of Nigeria are unabashedly hoping for his election.


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