at Georgetown University

Vital Statistics:






1 November 1932

Present Age: 72



23 November 1958


Ordained Priest


6 July 1965



Coadjutor Archbishop, Onitsha, Nigeria

29 August 1965


Ordained Bishop

Coadjutor Archbishop, Onitsha, Nigeria

26 June 1967



Archbishop, Onitsha, Nigera

9 March 1985


Resigned, Appointed

Pro-Prefect, Interreligious Dialogue, Roman Curia

25 May 1985


Elevated to Cardinal


27 May 1985



President of Interreligious Dialogue, Roman Curia

1 October 2002



Prefect, Sacred Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Roman Curia


Francis Cardinal Arinze at Georgetown University

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 Francis Cardinal Arinze delivered the commencement address at graduation ceremonies at Georgetown university (Jesuits) in Washington, D.C. on May 1, 2003. He eloquently delivered ‘truth to power’ in his presentation and he was not well-received at this liberal Catholic university. Seventy faculty members signed a protest to his remarks. By many observers Cardinal Arinze is held as a possible successor to Pope John Paul II.


The Cardinal invited the graduates to:


"Allow serious religion to lead you to lasting joy."


He continued:


"Happy parents and friends surround their loved ones. With them I say: Let us thank God for the gift of the family. The Company of Jesus, the Jesuits, initiated and nourished this university.  With them I rejoice at the patrimony of St. Ignatius and especially that the Catholic Church is God's gift to the world. To all I say:


“Arise, rejoice! God is calling you.”


"My dear graduates, at this turning point in your lives, it is helpful to keep to essentials. One of them is to locate in what happiness consists. Everyone wants to be happy. Every human being desires lasting joy. True happiness does not consist in the accumulation of goods: money, cars or houses. Nor is it to be found in pleasure-seeking: eating, drinking, sex.  And humans do not attain lasting joy by power-grabbing, dominating others, or heaping up public acclaim.  These three things, good in themselves when properly sought, were not able to confer on Solomon perfect happiness. And they will not be able to confer it on anyone else! Happiness is attained by achieving the purpose of our earthly existence. God made me to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in the next. St. Augustine found this out in his later age after making many mistakes in his youth. He then cried out to God:


“You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”


"My religion guides and helps me toward this. My Catholic faith puts me in contact with Jesus Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. God's grace helps me to live on earth in such a way as to attain the purpose of my earthly existence.


"My dear graduates, allow your religion to give your life its essential and major orientation In our lives, religion is not something marginal, peripheral, additional, optional.  My Catholic faith gives meaning and a sense of direction to my life. It gives it unity. Without it my life would be like an agglomeration of scattered mosaics. It is my religion, for example, that inspires my profession  that teaches me that there is more happiness in giving than in receiving that helps me to appreciate that to reach the height of my growth potential, I must learn to give of myself to others as I practice my profession as lawyer, doctor, air hostess, congress member, or priest.


"Allow your religion to give life, joy, generosity, and a sense of solidarity to your professional and social engagements. In a world of religious plurality, you will of course learn to cooperate with people of other religious convictions. True religion teaches not exclusion, rivalry, tension, conflict, or violence, but rather openness, esteem, respect, and harmony.  At the same time you should keep intact your religious identity, your distinction as a witness of Jesus Christ.


"Thank God for the gift of the family.  As I see joy and just pride reflected on the faces of the parents and friends of these graduates, I think of God's goodness in giving the gift of the family to humanity. It is God Himself who willed that a man and a woman should come to establish a permanent bond in marriage. Marriage gives rise to the family. In this fundamental cell of society, love grows. There the exercise of sexuality has its correct locus.  There human maturity is nurtured. There new life utters its first cry and later smiles at the parents. There the child is first introduced to religion. Is it any wonder that the Second Vatican Council called the family 'the church of the home'?


"In many parts of the world, the family is under siege. It is opposed by an anti-life mentality as is seen in contraception, abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. It is scorned and banalized by pornography, desecrated by fornication and adultery, mocked by homosexuality, sabotaged by irregular unions, and cut in two by divorce.


"But the family has friends too. It is nourished by mutual love, strengthened by sacrifice, and healed by forgiveness and reconciliation.


"The family is blessed with new life, kept united by family prayer, and given a model in the Holy Family of Nazareth of Jesus Mary, and Joseph. Christian families are moreover blessed by the Church in the name of Christ and fed by the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist.  It was beautiful that at the beatification of Luigi and Maria Beltrame-Quattrocchi in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City on October 21,2001, three of their children were present.


"It is a joy, an honor, and a responsibility to belong to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. This Mystical Body of Christ, this largest of all religious families that ever existed, is the divinely set up family for all peoples, languages and cultures. This Church has produced saints from every state of life, men and women who, open to God's grace, have become signs of hope. But this same Church also has sinners in her fold. Far from discouraging and rejecting them, the Church offers them hope, wholesome Gospel teaching, saving sacraments, and the invitation to abandon the food of pigs, make a U-turn, and return to the refreshing joy of their Father's house, like the prodigal son.


"This Church has inherited from Christ, the Apostles, and her living Tradition, a non-negotiable body of doctrine on faith and morals. The tenets of the Catholic faith do not change according to the play of market forces, majority votes, or opinion polls:


“Jesus Christ is the same today as He was yesterday and as He will be forever.”

                                                                                                                                (Cf. Hebrews 13:8)


"This is the Church which St. Ignatius invites all his spiritual children to love and cherish. This is the Church to which we have the joy to belong."




Praised he Jesus Christ!

Now and forever!




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