John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan(Cardinal), has finally retired as Cardinal Priest in Nigerian. He made this known to the public during his 75th birthday celebration at the Abuja Cathedral on Wednesday.
Before his retirement, John Cardinal Onaiyekan was the first Nigerian prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He has been Archbishop of Abuja since 1994 and was made a Cardinal in 2012. He has served as President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria and Bishop of Ilorin.
In October 1980, Pope John Paul II named Onaiyekan to a five-year term on the International Theological Commission. In November, he joined the International Catholic/Methodist Dialogue Commission.
Onaiyekan was consecrated as Auxiliary Bishop of Ilorin, Kwara State, and titular bishop of Thunusuda on 6 January 1983 by Pope John Paul II. He became Bishop of Ilorin in 1984. In 1990 he was named Coadjutor Bishop of the Abuja. When that diocese became an Archdiocese on 26 March 1994, Onaiyekan became its first archbishop.
He was elected Vice-President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in 1994 and President of that body in 2000.
On 18 September 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named Onaiyekan one of the Synod Fathers for the October 2012 Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.
He was created a Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in a consistory on 24 November 2012. As Cardinal-Priest he was assigned to the titular church of San Saturnino.
On 31 January 2013, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Onaiyekan a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and a member of the Presidential Committee of the Pontifical Council for the Family. He can hold these positions until his 80th birthday.
He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2013 papal conclave that elected Pope Francis.
Pope Francis appointed Onaiyekan the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Ahiara in Imo State in eastern Nigeria on 3 July 2013.
Pope Francis appointed him to a five-year renewable term as a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in October 2016.
He won the election for the position of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President on 19 June 2007 with 72 votes over Anglican Primate Peter Akinola who had 33 votes.