The Next Pope: Another African?

The spiritual Rottweiler, Pope Benedict XVI, is knackered. Just short of eight years into his papacy, the “R” bomb has been dropped on the Holy See; resurrecting a tradition established by Pope Gregory XII in 1415. Citing a deterioration of “strength [in] mind and body,” our man Benny will stand down at the end of February, passing down the velvet slippers to the next Supreme Pontiff. At Africa is a Country, we rarely concern ourselves with the arcane intrigue of St. Peter’s, where men dressed as wizards claim special channels of communication with God. It’s not really our business to tread where others are so demonstrably better suited. But speculation has it that the reeling Conclave of Cardinals may select from among their brethren a black to lead the Church into the light.

A black star rises in the South in the form of Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Turkson (who has some good politics; he’s a critic of the IMF, neoliberalism and promote an overhaul of the global finance system). If selected, the Cardinal of Cape Coast will in fact be Africa’s fourth Pope, following in the footsteps of Victor I (AD 189-199), Miltiades (311-314), and Gelasius (492-496).

Given the Church’s decline in its European heartlands, it makes some PR sense to take on a man from the global South, where catholic dogma remains comparatively relevant. Just under half of all Catholics now hail from Latin America (30%) and Africa (15%).

Let’s just hope that unlike another of Ghana’s sons, he isn’t welcomed to Italy as another “family nigger”.

(For the record, if Africa is a Country is invited to join the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel cum clave, we’ll strongly counsel for the empopement of Stephen Keshi, who resigned as coach of Nigeria’s national football team yesterday. Don’t be deceived by his lack of ecclesiastical experience: Keshi would plainly be the best pick as the next Vicar of Christ. Having brought Nigeria together, a billion or so Roman Catholics would be a walk in the park for Big Boss, and he’d also be the first man ever to achieve Sainthood before becoming pontiff — only a miracle worker could win the Nations Cup with the Super Eagles these days.)


8 thoughts on “The Next Pope: Another African?

  1. I like this blog, but this is a little irreverent, you must agree. Maybe even if I was in a different mood this morning; but I am apparently not in the mood for irreverence…. That said, I enjoyed the article because it was informative while clever for clever’s sake. Why does everyone think they can get away with this disrespect for the Catholic Church? I think this was a gracious move by Pope Benedict XVI and I am eager to see who will be next- hoping of course that it will be an African or a candidate from a developing country.

  2. I like this blog as well, and I like Cardinal Turkson. I think the line, “where men dressed as wizards claim special channels of communication with God,” is the one that seemed unnecessarily contemptuous. Why take the risk of alienating Catholic readers (like me) for the sake of a fairly unoriginal swipe that adds nothing substantive to the article? Oh well, it’s not like I haven’t heard far, far worse — I suppose I’m more bemused than offended.

    • I agree. I doubt an article about another religion would have received the same treatment (animism, Islam, etc.). Well, maybe one of the Nigerian evangelical churches would have, but still. Why do the clothes matter, and how many other religions have leaders who claim to communicate with God? Also, I think this piece missed an opportunity to comment and speculate on the Catholic church, condoms and AIDS; what could an African successor’s position on the matter be, and what the impact was of Pope Benedict’s admission that condoms could be used with sex workers.

      • In case you’re interested, Paul Bakibinga interviewed Cardinal Turkson on yesterday’s BBC Africa podcast and asked him about Benedict’s comments on condoms.

  3. If a African, South American or an Asian is picked as a Pope the Catholic Church is over. The only financial support comes from the North. I will not support any Pope that is not European, American or Canadian. If the Cardinals pick one of these idiots from the other area of the world they can kiss the religeon goodbye.

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