Cardinal Francis Arinze is appearing on What the World Thinks of God
Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria is taking part in What the World thinks of God, a unique BBC programme examining the modern world's relationship with God. He is one of the most senior figures in the Roman Catholic church and has overseen relations and dialogue with other faiths.
In his own words, he describes how belief in God influences his life.
I believe in God. He created the universe, the world and me.
I do not have in myself the reason for my own existence. If I exist, it is because God has chosen to give me existence.
He is the only being that necessarily exists, the only being that does not owe to another the reason for his own existence.
Right and wrong in human action are finally based on how God created us.
The 10 Commandments were written, as it were, into the human heart before God wrote them on two tablets and gave them to Moses.
In my life, therefore, I do not see the 10 Commandments primarily as a Christian code, but as the will of God for all humanity.
This explains why people of most cultures appreciate and understand most of the injunctions of the 10 Commandments, even if they do not always live up to them all.
I therefore see God as giving me a sense of purpose, unity and direction to my life. The little details of my life begin to acquire a certain unity and meaning under this general belief.
WHAT THE WORLD THINKS OF GOD
BBC Two: Thursday, 26 February, 2004 at 21:00 GMT
BBC World Service: Sunday, 29 February, 2004 at 13:06 GMT
Discuss the issues raised in a special edition of Talking Point, on BBC World Service radio and the website, Sunday, 29 February, 2004 at 14:06 GMT
God is for me not only a Creator, but a loving Father who cares over the least incidents in my life. I am convinced that he knows me by name. Nothing happens to me that he has not planned or that he cannot use.
Often I do not understand. I do not presume that I can understand his plans. But just like a child in the mother's arms, I am trustful. I do not fear.
When, as a young priest back in Nigeria in 1960, I expected to be sent to a parish, but I was sent to teach in the Seminary. I accepted it and it has worked out well.
Two years later when I was getting well established in that teaching assignment, I was posted to the management of schools. I accepted it and it has worked out well.
And there are many other incidents like that in my life. I believe in God as loving providence.
From the most serious issues to the most trivial, not everything in my life has worked out as I could have wished. But always my faith in God has come to help me.
For instance, twice, the aircraft in which I was travelling developed trouble during a stop-over and all 250 passengers were delayed for 24 hours. My plans were affected and I was not amused.
Or a friend did not keep his promise to come and I had to suffer disappointment and try to make other plans.
On another occasion, I did what I considered proper and useful, but my interlocutor did not receive it kindly, but rather impugned wrong motives to me.
IMAGES OF FAITH
A series of images created for What the World Thinks of God
On a lighter vein, rain spoils my plan to play lawn tennis on a certain day.
On all these occasions I had something, smaller or greater to suffer. And my faith in God came to my help.
Suffering poses many questions. There is suffering caused by human beings: oppression, stealing, hatred, violence, killing.
God permits such because he does not want to destroy the free will which he gave each human being.
Physical tragedies pose a more difficult question: earthquakes, disease, climatic disasters and death.
A Christian does everything possible to avoid or remove suffering. But total success is not possible in this world.
The enigma of suffering receives a solution when we look on Jesus Christ on the Cross. Suffering acquires redemptive value.
If Christ and his Blessed Mother suffered, and they were the most innocent who ever walked on this Earth, who am I to argue that I should never suffer?
My belief in God as Creator and Providence calls on me to make of my whole life an offering to God. This is a daily challenge. It is not easy, but it is highly fulfilling.
It helps me to know that God writes straight on crooked lines. He is the Director General of the universe, of human history and of my personal life.
What I am asked to do is to strive daily to do his will as it is best known to me.
What The World Thinks of God will be broadcast as follows: