(Vatican Radio) The Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, said it is wrong “to spiritualize poverty” during an address on Friday to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC), currently taking place in Cebu, Philippines.
The Nigerian Cardinal was speaking on “The Eucharist and the Dialogue with the Poor and Suffering.”
“Poverty can mean many things,” Cardinal Onaiyekan said.
Listen to the interview by Seàn-Patrick Lovett with Cardinal John Onaiyekan:
“Actually, in the Church poverty can be a virtue. We speak of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience. The word poverty itself could be positive,” he told Vatican Radio.
However, he said there is a different kind of poverty – “misery” – which cannot be welcomed.
“A material poverty that ends up in misery, in deprivation of the main essentials of life, and there are many people in the world of our days that are suffering that kind of poverty,” he said.
“We cannot spiritualize poverty as if it is a good thing,” said Cardinal Onaiyekan. “It can never be a good thing.”
In his address to the IEC, the Cardinal spoke about the meaning of the Cross for Christians.
“Since [Jesus] died on the cross, what had been until then a symbol of a shameful death has become a great symbol of the glory of Christ in His glorious crucifixion,” Cardinal Onaiyekan told the Congress.
He then spoke about the ongoing campaign of terror against Christians and other religious minorities of the so-called Islamic State in different countries of the Middle East and North Africa.
“Today, we hear Muslim terrorists crucifying Christians as a way of inflicting the greatest pain and degradation on their victims,” he said. “But the cross still remains the symbol of the victory of the Lord Jesus.”
At the end of his speech, Cardinal Onaiyekan was surprised with a birthday cake by the Archbishop of Cebu, Jose S. Palma. The Cardinal turned 72 on Friday.