By Chioma Ndife
The Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis, has elevated the Catholic Bishop of Ekwulobia Diocese, His Lordship Most Rev. Peter Ebelechukwu Okpaleke, to the order of Cardinal Deacon.
The announcement of the elevation of Bishop Okpaleke, alongside 20 others as new cardinals of the Holy Catholic Church, was made last Sunday, May 29.
Most Rev Okpaleke, who was the only Nigerian that made the current cardinal list, hailed from Amesi, Aguata LGA, Anambra State, and currently, the first Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia (CADEK), following his appointment on March 5, 2020, and installation on April 29, 2022.
Fides gathered that Bishop Okpaleke who was ordained a Catholic priest for the Old Awka Diocese on August 22, 1990, was appointed the Catholic Bishop of Ahiara Diocese on December 7, 2012.
He was consecrated a Bishop on May 21, 2013, but due to rejections and uncertainties, he was not installed for Ahiaria Diocese.
According to Information from the Papacy, Pope Francis would, in a consistory fixed for August 27, 2022, make Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke and 20 others, new cardinals of the Holy Catholic Church.
The consistory would be the 8th one for the creation of new cardinals for the pope.
Bishop Okpaleke’s cardinal appointment, occurred barely one week after his 9-Year Episcopal Anniversary.
According to the Catholic News Agency, there will be 16 cardinals under the age of 80 elevated at the next consistory to be held on August 27.
This will be the eighth consistory of Pope Francis’ pontificate, and the first of his to be held in August.
With these new cardinals, Pope Francis has created 122.
The reports have it that here are three members of the Curia: Arthur Roche, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments; Lazzaro You Heung Sik, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; and Fernando Vergez, President of the Governatorate of Vatican City State.
Pope Francis’ choices regarding diocesan bishops confirmed his preference to choose dioceses that are not traditionally Cardinal Sees, omitting prominent places such as Milan, Venice, Krakow, and Paris.
‘The Holy Father has created:
— Cardinal Jean-Marc Noël Aveline, 63, Archbishop of Marseille, who will become the first French Diocesan bishop to get the honour during Pope Francis’ pontificate;
– Peter Ebere Okpaleke, 59, Bishop of Ekwulobia in the Central Region of Nigeria, who was created bishop in 2012 by Benedict XVI;
— Leonardo Ullrich, 77, Archbishop of Manaus, in Brazil’s Amazon region, a Franciscan who played a leading role during the Amazon Synod and the current Vice President of the recently created Amazonian Bishops’ Conference;
— Filipe Neri António Sebastião do Rosário Ferrão, 69, Archbishop of Goa, appointed bishop by St. John Paul II in 1993 and currently the President of Latin-rite bishops of India; Robert McElroy, 68, Bishop of San Diego (United States), whose diocese is suffragan to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, led by the President of the USCCB, Archbishop José Gomez;
— Virgilio do Carmo Da Silva, 68, a Salesian, Archbishop of Dili (East Timor);
— Oscar Cantoni, 71, Bishop of Como (Italy), appointed in January 2005 by St. John Paul II, who is suffragan to Milan;
— Anthony Poola, 60, Archbishop of Hyderabad (India), a bishop since 2008 and the first dalit to become a cardinal;
–Paulo Cezar Costa, 54, Archbishop of Brasilia (Brazil), the fourth archbishop of the Brazilian capital to become a cardinal;
— Richard Kuuia Baawobr, 62, Bishop of Wa (Ghana), former Superior General of the White Fathers, and bishop since 2016;
— William Goh Seng Chye, 62, Archbishop of Singapore since 2013′ as contained in the released list.