Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Monday, 6 May 2013
Monday, 11 February 2013
Today it was announced that the Pope had resigned, becoming the first pope to do so since the Middle Ages. The big question everyone is asking now is, who will replace him? My belief is that one of three things will happen.
Firstly, Italians had a 'lock' on the papacy, and for 400 years, only Italian cardinals were elected Pope. That changed with the election of John Paul II in 1978, and the Italians lost out again when at the end of his unusually long pontificate in 2005, another non-Italian, Benedict XVI, was elected. It is possible the Italian cardinals want to regain the highest office in Catholicism by electing one of their own. Several Italian Cardinals are already being tipped. The problem is Italians don't dominate the College of Cardinals in the way they once did so even if they all voted as one, that wont be enough to win. Furthermore, there are lots of Italians who could be 'papibile', and thus the vote would be split anyway.
Secondly, it is possible yet another non-Italian will be elected, and that is where the smart money is. However, he probably wont be a European. The RC church recognises that in its traditional stronghold of Europe, Catholicism is weak. This is in sharp contrast with the way the RC church is booming in Africa and other parts of the global south. Already attention is turning to two prominent black Africans: Cardinal Francis Arizne of Nigeria, and Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. Whilst men born on the African continent have held the papacy before, they haven't done so for over 1,000 years and these men were North Africans, not black Africans. The election of a black Pope could send a powerful message that the RC church is serious about Africa.
The third possibility, albeit a wild-card, is an Arab Pope. There are Cardinals from Muslim and Arab countries, and the RC Church has shown an interest in 'dialogue' with Muslims. Also, the bulk of the Arab world's dwindling Christian population are Catholic, and the RC Church may see a Pope from a Muslim country as a means to both strengthen the morale of Catholics in Muslim countries, and as a way of getting someone familiar with Islam at the head of their 'dialogue'.
We shall soon see!