Skip to comments.Road to Sainthood for Cardinal Otunga
Posted on 09/13/2005 4:44:12 AM PDT by siunevada
Plans by the Catholic Church in Kenya to initiate the process of making the late Maurice Cardinal Michael Otunga a saint could, if successful, bring the number of African saints and blesseds to 29.
Blesseds are people who have been beatified by the Pope. Beatification is the first step towards being cannonised, which means being declared a saint.
The 28 African saints and blesseds include the 24 Ugandan martyrs, St Josephine Bakhita from Sudan, Blessed Anuarite Nengapeta and Blessed Isidore Bakanja both from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Blessed Teresa Chikaba of Guinea and a Consolata nun, Sister Irene of Nyeri in Kenya.
Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a'Nzeki of Nairobi diocese, plans to ask the Vatican to fast-track the canonisation of Maurice Cardinal Otunga.
However, apparently in an attempt to inject a note of caution in the process, the Pope's representative to Kenya, Archbishop Alain Paul Lebeaupin, said this week that while the Diocese of Nairobi was free to seek special authorisation from the Vatican to start the process of turning Cardinal Otunga into a saint, it would take some time.
The Nuncio was speaking after presiding at a memorial mass to mark the second anniversary of the death of Cardinal Otunga, the first and, so far, only Kenyan Cardinal and a former Archbishop of Nairobi.
"The process has not begun; the rule is five years. To start the process earlier, the Archdiocese Emeritus of Nairobi needs a special authorisation from the Holy Father," he said.
Model of holiness
The editor of the Catholic publication, Seed Magazine, Father Luigi Anataloni Gigi, told the Sunday Nation: "To become a saint in the Catholic Church is not easy. One would have to either have died as a model of holiness or be killed for his/her religious conviction. Martyrs and victims of genocide in defence of the faith are possible candidates for sainthood."
Ordinarily, a Catholic diocese can initiate the process of canonisation only after the expiry of five years after the candidate's death.
Pope John Paul II canonised many martyrs. Among them were 218 martyrs in Spain who were persecuted because of their religious beliefs between 1934 and 1939.
St Bakhita was born in Sudan in 1869 and died in Italy in 1947. Bakhita was not her name at birth. The name was given to her by her captors because she forgot her original name having been sold and resold in the markets of El Obeid and Khartoum, where she was subjected to traumatising humiliation and suffering in slavery.
The blessed Chikaba was born in 1676 and, at the age of 10, she was kidnapped by Spanish sailors and taken as a slave. Since her death in 1784, there are many who have claimed to have witnessed miracles due to her intercession with God.
The martyrs of Uganda were tortured and killed by the Kabakas - Mwanga and Mutesa I.
Joseph Mukasa was the first Ugandan martyr. He was killed on orders of Kabaka Mwanga on November 15, 1885, aged 25 for refusing to indulge in promiscuous sex.
Isidore Bakanja, a lay Congolese catechist, was tortured and killed for his religious beliefs in 1909 by a European "overseer" who hated Catholics.
Fr Dominic Wamugunda, who became a priest with assistance from Cardinal Otunga, was quoted as saying that the cardinal was "an extremely holy man. If I had the power, I would make him a saint today and I am saying this for the Nuncio to hear".
Bishop Joseph Mairura of Kisii said: "We were his first love. I have requested the faithful to pray through the intercession of Cardinal Otunga and they should report any miracle that occurs through the Cardinal's intercession. I will rush to Nairobi to report to the Nuncio."
In August, the Archdiocese of Nairobi moved the Cardinal's remains to a special chapel at Resurrection Garden, a quiet retreat centre in the city.
A nephew to the Cardinal, Mr George Nabutola, said that while moving the remains to another place contravened traditional Bukusu customs, the family accepted that the Church had valid reasons for doing so.
"The Church had its own reasons for moving the body to another place," Mr Nabutola said during the second anniversary celebrations of the Cardinal's death. "I think it is a convenient place; a place of prayer," he added.
The unannounced exhumation and reburial caught many Kenyans by surprise. But Mr Nabutola said the exercise was not done "secretly".
Cardinal Otunga's immediate family was duly consulted about the exhumation and reburial.
Cardinal Otunga was baptised in the Catholic Church aged 12, against his father's wish.
The cardinal was ordained a bishop at Kibuye Cathedral in Kisumu in February 1957.
As Bishop Maurice Otunga, he founded and headed the Kisii diocese in the 1960s until he was promoted to Coadjutor Archbishop of Nairobi in 1969. It was he who blessed Kenya's flag on Independence Day, December 12, 1963.
Archbishop Otunga took full charge of the See of Nairobi in 1971, succeeding Archbishop J. J. McCarthy. He then made history when he was named the first Kenyan Cardinal by Pope Paul VI in March, 1973 at the age of 50. At that time, he was the youngest Cardinal in the world. Cardinal Otunga died on September 6, 2003, aged 81.
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Language can be so confusing. I can't imagine the Catholic Church claims to 'make' saints.
the Pope's representative to Kenya, Archbishop Alain Paul Lebeaupin, said this week that while the Diocese of Nairobi was free to seek special authorisation from the Vatican to start the process of turning Cardinal Otunga into a saint
Wow. I hope that's the writer putting words in the Archbishop's mouth. 'Turning' the Cardinal into a saint sounds like a mechanical process.
Father Luigi Anataloni Gigi, told the Sunday Nation: "To become a saint in the Catholic Church is not easy.
Closer, but I still have to quibble. I read 'become' as implying the person did that through ordinary human effort. And 'in' the Church? Some of the Ugandan martyrs we memorialize were Anglican and not completely 'in' the Catholic Church. I think the Church says she 'recognizes' saints. Making saints is God's work.
Anyway, language quibbles aside, I don't know anything about the late Cardinal but they must be preparing to propose him because of an exceptional life of virtue.
And St. Victor, Pope of Rome, a native of Roman Africa.
And St. Augustine too, for that matter. I guess Roman Africans aren't counted as real Africans or something?
That went through my mind as I was reading his list. These may be the African saints of recent centuries but the list isn't exhaustive, where's Augustine and Monica? Felicity and Perpetua? Anthony the founder of monastic life? Many more but I'm sure the article is intended for a more general, modern audience.
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