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Everyday Heroes: Anthony Olubunmi Okogie


Cardinal Okogie volunteered to die in place of a Muslim woman who had been condemned to death by stoning by an Islamic court for adultery.

That statement above in itself summarises why He takes the place of our Everyday Hero today. If this doesn’t put him on the pedestal of heroes? Nothing else will.


Anthony Olubunmi Okogie is a Nigerian Cardinal Priest and formerly Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos in the Roman Catholic Church.

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Born in Lagos on June 16th 1936, in Nigeria, Okogie was born to a royal family of Uromi in Edo State. His parents were Prince Michael Okojie – who was himself a son of King Ogbidi Okojie of Uromi – and Mrs Lucy Adunni Okojie (née Afolabi). His father was Esan and his mother was Yoruba. Okogie was an ordained priest on 11 December 1966. He holds a licentiate in sacred theology, and had planned to study in Rome, but was called to Nigeria where he was a curate at the Holy Cross Cathedral. He was drafted into the Nigerian army and served there as a chaplain. After another period of service at Holy Cross Cathedral, he was an instructor at King’s College.

In 1971, he has consecrated Titular Bishop of Mascula and Auxiliary of Oyo, and in 1973 named archbishop. As Archbishop, Okogie was the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, and, from 1994 to 2000, headed the Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria.

He was proclaimed Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in the consistory of 21 October 2003 and holds the title of Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria del Monte Carmelo a Mostacciano (or in English Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel of Mostacciano). During his cardinalate, Okogie was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Okogie was also one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2013 papal conclave that elected Pope Francis. During the opening day of the 2013 conclave, Cardinal Okogie was notable in that he was the one cardinal who was in a wheelchair during most of the proceedings, standing up only when it came time for him to walk towards the gospels and make the cardinal electors’ oath. During the procession and entry into the conclave, Cardinal Okogie was the one cardinal from the Latin church who did not wear the mozzetta.

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His resignation from the pastoral governance of the See of Lagos because of having reached the age limit of 75 years was accepted on 25 May 2012.

Views on Condoms, Celibacy and American Culture

In 2007, he condemned the government approval of a condom factory. Cardinal Okogie also has defended the Catholic Church’s laws on celibacy for Catholic priests. In addition, Okogie has been critical of American culture, especially as it relates to priestly vocations. He said “those people there, in the US, they don’t value anything anymore. And how do you want priests to come from a place like that?”

The Safiya Hussaini Tungar-tudu Case

Hussaini, a nursing mother whose one-year-old baby girl is at the centre of the case, was convicted of having had an illicit sexual affair with a man out of wedlock. Under the strict Shari’ah law applied in Sokoto, adultery carries a mandatory death sentence. Okogie, the Catholic archbishop of the Lagos Archdiocese in south-western Nigeria however offered to pay the sentence imposed on the woman in the northern state of Sokoto in a case which has created an international outcry. More so, because the man who committed the act with her was allowed to go free.

Archbishop Okogie was, however, a major opponent of the Islamic Shariah legal system. This was what motivated him to make the offer as a protest of the Nigerian Catholic Church against the Islamic Shari’ah legal system. The archbishop accused the system of deliberately persecuting Christians and the poor of northern Nigeria. He called on religious leaders vested with responsibility for administering and interpreting the Islamic legal code to do so in the fear of God and with humility, taking human considerations into account. The archbishop warned the nation’s political leaders that unless checked, policies in certain Nigerian states could isolate the entire nation from the international community.


Christianity Today


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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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