Francis Arinze and God's Invisible Hand

Book Summarizes Series of Interviews With Nigerian Cardinal

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ROME, JAN. 13, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A new book touches on Francis Arinze's spiritual journey, including his childhood baptism up to his days as a cardinal prefect of a Vatican dicastery.



"God's Invisible Hand," summarizing a series of interviews, recounts the spiritual journey of Cardinal Arinze, the 71-year-old prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

In the book the Nigerian recounts how he came to see the invisible hand of God as the guide of history and of his own life, a concept that has become central to his spirituality and decision-making.

Speaking with Vatican correspondent Gerard O'Connell, the cardinal reveals many previously untold details of his personal journey. The book has been published in Kenya by Paulines Africa.

From Francis Arinze's school years in Nigeria, through his university days in Rome and his studies in London, the reader gets a glimpse of his life as priest and bishop.

The book reveals what it meant to be the youngest bishop in the world when participating in the final session of the Second Vatican Council. The work also records his years as a "fugitive bishop" in Biafra during the Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970.

The volume refers to his postwar effort to reconstruct in Church in the Archdiocese of Onitsha, following the expulsion of missionaries from the country, and covers the period he spent as president of the Nigerian episcopal conference, which culminated with John Paul II's first visit to the country in 1982.

Blessed Michael Cyprian Iwene Tansi, a priest and the first blessed of west Africa, baptized Francis Arinze at age 9. He played a key role in the latter's life, inspiring him in his priestly vocation. The book refers to their spiritual relation and reveals how the cardinal opened the way for his "mentor's" beatification.

The second part of the book focuses on key moments in the prelate's life, such as his appointment by John Paul II as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (1984-2002).

It also offers the cardinal's personal reflections when accompanying the Pope on his trips to Morocco, Egypt and South Africa, on his work in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and on his conversation with Mother Teresa of Calcutta shortly before her death.

In the 400-page volume, 16 of which comprise photographs, the reader will also find the testimony of the moment when Cardinal Arinze presided at the funeral of the seven Trappist monks of Algeria who were decapitated by Muslim fundamentalists.

In October 2002, John Paul II appointed Cardinal Arinze as head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. In the final interview, recorded in December 2002, the cardinal reflects on his 18 years of experience in heading the Church's dialogue with other religions as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and explains how he perceives his new mission.