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Blessed Michael Cyprian Iwene Tansi

An interview with Cardinal Francis Arinze, in 2014, helped shed more light on the reason the Nigerian born Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi had not been canonized.

According to Daily Sun, several questions were thrown at the Cardinal as he took his time to answer them all. Some of the questions he answered were his health, his retirement, politics and our object of concern in this article centers on the reason Nigeria and West Africa is yet to have a Saint of it's own.

Here is an excerpt from the interview in full:

Recently, the Universal Church sainted Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. Some people are of the view that, that of Pope John Paul II was fast and they say our own Blessed Iwene Tansi has been on the road far too long. They are alleg­ing that politics is involved in the whole exercise. Can you enlighten people more on this?

Yes, that sentiment is understandable. I can see why. But explanation is needed. The church law is that after beatification, one more miracle is required for canonisation- if one more miracle is obtained, proved and goes through the stages in the diocese and in Rome. For John Paul II, the miracles were obtained in plenty. Why will God work more miracles on the name of John Paul II than an­other name, I don’t know. God didn’t appoint me His special adviser. But, sometimes, the miracles come soon. At other times, they do not come so fast. God knows.

Moreover, the Pope also has the discretion to wave a miracle if he so decides but it is exceptional. The only case I have heard the Pope waived it in my lifetime is for Blessed John XXIII; so that he was Canonised along with John Paul II. There was no miracle in the name of John XXIII but there was in the name of John Paul II.

So, the Pope has that faculty. You can say to me; why does he not use it for Blessed Tansi? My answer, as I said, in my own life­time, I have heard the Pope use that discre­tion only once. Just because Fr. Tansi is from Aguleri and Onitsha and Nigeria, you think he is exceptional but there are others also. Think of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She was beatified but not yet Canonised because there is not a second miracle proved. Then think of Cardinal Newman. These are very famous people in history. It took many decades before a miracle was obtained for his beatification. So, the actual thing to do is simple: To keep on praying for a miracle in the name of Blessed Tansi. There was one case of cancer. The person touched the remains of the Blessed Tansi and was healed but when it was examined, they found that he had also got very good medicine from the doctors. So, according to the very demanding criteria in Rome, if there is any possibility that it was because of doctors’ care that the person got well, it is not technically called a miracle. So, we keep on praying. There is no question of politics there at all. It is not because Blessed Tansi is from our area. No. Indeed, you know that when Blessed Tansi was beatified, it was a favour to Nigeria. I know because I presented a case in Rome. I said because there were very many candidates lined up, their cases to be examined for beatification, if Blessed Tansi were to wait for his turn, it might have taken 10 years or more because there are hundreds of cases in the Congregation for Canonisation of Saints. So, I went there and begged the Cardinal and said: “I know it is not the turn of Fr. Tansi but in the whole of West Africa, we haven’t people beatified. You, Cardinal, you are an Italian and you have Saints almost from every town in Italy. Right, left, centre; saints all over the place. So, you don’t need so much encouragement. Please, encourage us. Push his own forward as a consideration for West Africa. And he said, yes, you are right.”

For the same reason, you will like to know, in this Congregation for Saints’ can­onisation, if there is a lay person and better still, husband and wife, they will be given priority immediately before bishops, priests and sisters. The reason is because, it makes more impact in our society. So, the Pope can decide to make this one urgent provided there is the miracle.

So, if you are a lay person and your cause is on and there is miracle, you will be given priority before bishops and priests, because when bishops, priests and sisters are canon­ised, the people say, of course, these should be saints but if it is husband and wife, this impact is more. So, that is where a practi­cal pastoral decision comes in. If we get a second miracle, Blessed Tansi will reach canonisation.

The Pope has just visited South Korea where, he, among others, beatified 124 early Korean Catholics and others. Do you see him, visiting Nigeria and any West African country very soon?

I am not a prophet but the question of which country he visits depends on many factors. One, the Pope is to consider his own health. Our Pope is very young, only 77 years old, and you know what 77 years mean. When you are at that age, you are not as strong as when you were 55. Secondly, the Pope will consider the countries that invited him. So, generally, the president of the country and the bishops of the country will invite him. When President Jonathan went to Rome in March 2014, he invited the Pope to Nigeria and the bishops will also invite him. Then, the Pope will consider how many countries invited him and how many of them he can visit without fainting, without becoming sick. Pope Francis has gone to Asia, Korea to meet the youths of Asia. Indeed, next year, he will go to Asia again. He will go to Sri Lanka and the Philippines because the Philippines was devastated by a terrible typhoon; and in Sri Lanka, there is a theological institute, beginning there. But the Pope has also to look at the map of the whole world to see which areas get prior­ity. You see, no Pope has visited Asia in the last eight years. During the whole time of Pope Benedict, he did not visit any country in Asia but he visited Middle East, which is really West Asia and he visited Australia. He visited Africa two times. He went to Cameroon, Angola and Benin Republic. So, this Pope didn’t tell me but I guess he looked at it that Asia will say; are we forgotten? So, he makes the two visits to them. We do not grudge Asia that. It may well be that he will visit the United States because there is a big congress for the families in Philadelphia next September. Perhaps, he will go but he has not promised yet because he has to reckon how many considerations. It does not mean Nigeria is not important; just as Nigeria wants him to come, so also Kenya, Congo, Egypt and so on. And the Pope will examine all of them and see where he will place prior­ity. It is not for me to say.

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