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 CNS Story:

POPE-RETREAT Feb-18-2009 (230 words) xxxi

Pope names Nigerian cardinal to lead Lenten retreat

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has asked the former head of the Vatican's worship and sacraments congregation, Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, to lead his 2009 Lenten retreat.

During the March 1-7 retreat, the 76-year-old cardinal will focus on the theme "The Priest Encounters Jesus and Follows Him."

Top Vatican officials also attend the annual retreat with the pope, who clears his schedule of all audiences for the week.

The choice of the Nigerian cardinal comes the same year Pope Benedict is making an apostolic visit to Cameroon and Angola in March and presiding over a special Synod of Bishops for Africa in October.

Cardinal Arinze is one of the three African cardinals the pope has named as his delegated presidents for the special synod. The cardinal also served as a delegate president during the 1994 Synod of Bishops for Africa.

Cardinal Arinze was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1985.

He served as head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments for six years until his retirement in December 2008. Before that, he had served as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue for 17 years.

As a convert from a traditional African religion, the cardinal firmly advocates inculturation as a means of making Christianity less foreign to non-Westerners.

END


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