Thursday 21 February 2013
Is It Time For The First African Pope?
Earlier this week Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would resign from his role as the leader of the Catholic Church on 28 February. Many are now speculating that the next pope might be from Africa.
Ghanaian cardinal Peter Turkson, at a relatively sprightly 64 years old, is a widespread favourite for the job. Betting house William Hill has named Turkson as a 3/1 favourite, while he is also the favourite at Ladbrokes.
Other African cardinals that have been listed as possibilities for the job are Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, the 74-year-old Archbishop of Kinshasa Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of DRC and 69-year-old Nigerian John Onaiyekan, 69, the Abuja archbishop.
Reports that the next pope may come from Africa rise from the growth of the Catholic faith in the southern hemisphere, particularly Africa and Latin America.
As much as many people would like to see an African pope elected, the demographics of the College of Cardinals makes this extremely unlikely. The college is made up of 117 members, of which only 18 are from Africa.
In an interview with with The Associated Press earlier this week, Turkson humbly fielded suggestions that he might be the next pope, saying: "I've always answered 'if it's the will of God', being the pope of the church is not going to be an easy task." The Ghanaian added: "We need to repair our credibility. Our pastors need to be believed in again and recognised and taken seriously. If we say we are celibate clergy, we need to live faithfully to that celibacy. There's one thing we can't compromise on and that's our credibility."