Is an African Pope a Real Possibility?


Over half of the 118 cardinals that will soon pick the new Pope are from European nations, hinting that the majority of the world’s Catholic members hail from European nations.

Yet, worldwide demographic trends show a different picture.  According to the CNN Belief Blog, growth of the Catholic population in European nations is practically stagnant. Whereas, Africa is seeing significant membership growth to the Roman Catholic Church. This increase in new membership in African countries creates a stronger voice for Catholicism outside of Europe, making it seem as if the next Pope could be African.

Posters have even been spotted in Rome endorsing a top African Pope contender, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. Cardinal Turkson seems to be the most ideal and viable papal candidate coming out of Africa because of his age (by Vatican standards, being 64 is young), as well as the pastoral and Vatican exposure he has from running an archdiocese and being appointed by Pope Benedict to head the Council for Justice and Peace.

But should geographic background even be a part of the decision to find the next Pope? Reverend Emmanuel Katongole, a Ugandan Catholic priest, believes that “choosing the next Pope is an issue that must rise above geographic borders” because geography should theoretically have nothing to do with faith or loyalty to the Church.

Those 118 cardinals that will pick the Pope from amongst themselves should be basing their decisions on who they could see in that chair, leading the Roman Catholic Church. This seems to be the focus of the top ranking officials within the church who are focused on having a global vision. According to Bishop Thomas Paprocki, “The Pope has to be the visible shepherd of 1 billion Catholics in the world,” thus the nationality of the Pope is not the number one concern.

In the next 10 days, the cardinals will meet and the next Pope of the Roman Catholic Church will be chosen. Yet, the discussion surrounding whether or not the next Pope will be African shows a changing, more open, world.

– Angela Hooks

Sources: CNN Belief Blog, Voice of America, African Celebrities
Photo: Voice of America