Could next Pope be Black? - WLTZ 38 | Columbus Georgia Regional News & Community

Could next Pope be Black?

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By Vladmir Duthiers (CNN)-The resignation and final farewell of Pope Benedict the 16th leaves unanswered questions about the future leader of the Catholic Church.

Several church leaders from nations around the world are being called likely successors.

Pope Benedict IVX decision to resign due to failing health came as a surprise to the more than 1 billion Catholics around the world.

The Vatican says it hopes to elect a new Pope by Easter and the question on everyone's mind is - where will he come from?

The growth of the church has slowed in Europe and the United States but beyond western shores, Catholicism is expanding.

And that has many speculating that the next Pontiff may come from South America, Asia or even Africa … where there are over 185 million Catholics.

Two of Africa's front-runners are Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana and Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria.

When John Paul II died in 2005, Arinze was seen as "papabilie" …the one most likely to succeed the Pope. But Arinze is now 80 years old - two years older than Benedict was when he was elected. Turkson, by contrast is a spry 64.

Benedict the 16th traveled to Africa twice in 2009 and in 2011.

Before his first visit, he was criticized for upholding the church's strict doctrine against condom usage - comments that were seen as tone-deaf when it came to addressing some of the problems plaguing Africa like the aids epidemic….

He later softened that tone in saying that condoms could be morally acceptable in some cases to prevent disease.


In Nigeria, home to more than 25 million Catholics and growing…

many hope the new Pope will address some of the problems facing Africa's most populous country … problems they say, that are not uniquely Nigerian.

"I pray that this Pope, I wish, in my heart that Christians and Muslims should come together. Millions have been killed as a result of religion. It touches my mind, I feel for it. I pray that the pope, as head of the church should focus more it especially in Africa."

Father Jean-Paul Ale says that there is only one way end violence between Christians and Muslims.

"The way forward is dialogue. When you realize that when you kill a brother you are not killing a religion, what you are killing is the human body."

"Although many parishioners we spoke to at this church say that it would be wonderful if the next pope were to come from Africa, members of the clergy say that that decision rests with a higher authority."

"We don't make such speculations, we don't go by them. We rest in the arms of the will of God. We submit ourselves to God's will. (Cardinal) Arinze, yes, he has worked, he has done so much, a whole lot. But we are not going to vote because its an African. We will allow the will of God in everything."  

Still, many are saying that when the Vatican convenes the papal conclave, the white smoke …that burns when the church's leader is elected may be for a black pope.


A closed-door assembly of cardinals will elect a new pope.

The timetable for that conclave will be set in meetings that begin early next week.

The Vatican has said the next pontiff will be in place for Easter services at the end of March.

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