NAIROBI, Kenya, OCT. 25, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic president of Kenya congratulated that nation’s soon-to-be Cardinal John Njue, and in Senegal, a Muslim cleric who predicted the red hat for Archbishop Theodore-Adrien Sarr.
Archbishops Njue of Nairobi, Kenya, and Sarr of Dakar, Senegal, are two of the 23 who will be elevated to the rank of cardinal Nov. 24. Benedict XVI announced the appointments earlier this month.
Senegal is a mostly Muslim country, and according to the Catholic Information Service of Africa, it was Habibou Tall, a Muslim cleric, who predicted publicly that Archbishop Sarr, 70, would be elevated to cardinal before the end of the year.
“He said he was going to pray for that to happen,” the archbishop told reporters. “I know he has prayed for that to happen and I thank him for that.”
Christians and Muslims alike welcomed the appointment.
“There are countries where Christians are the biggest majority, but a cardinal was not named there, and we in small Senegal with a tiny population of Christians, we got one! We are simply blessed,” said Alioune Ndiaye, 35, a Christian brick maker.
Abdoulaye Diop, a 45-year-old Muslim bookkeeper, said, “The new cardinal, Theodore Sarr, will work hard to strengthen the already good relations between Muslims and Christians.”
Meanwhile in Kenya, the Catholic Information Service of Africa reported similar positive reactions, saying that many consider the appointment an honor for the entire country.
Archbishop Njue, 63, president of the Kenya episcopal conference and until Oct. 6, coadjutor archbishop of Nyeri, will be installed archbishop of Nairobi on Nov. 1, a few weeks before he receives the cardinal’s hat.
President Mwai Kibaki expressed his congratulations to the prelate, saying that the Pope’s appointment reflected faith and confidence in Archbishop Njue’s abilities.
“With your wealth of knowledge in divinities, your energy and drive and above all your faith in God, I am confident you are equal to the task,” Kibaki said. “I and my wife Lucy support you with our prayers and wish you God’s blessings as you embark on the momentous task of providing spiritual leadership to the Catholic faithful.”
The Daily Nation newspaper said, “The appointment by Pope Benedict is not just an honor for the Church, but for the whole country. Indeed this is an event in which Kenyans of all religious persuasions should take pride because it represents a rare honor and recognition for the country at large.”