News March 18, 2013 at 12:00 am

Is the World Ready for an African Pope?

Meghan Reid March 18, 2013 at 12:00 am

March 18, 2013 at 12:00 am | News

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina was elected as the 266th pope of the Catholic Church on Wednesday, March 13th, 2013 taking the name Pope Francis. He succeeded Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The Catholic Church has a long history and tradition of electing popes of European descent despite the fact that people of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds follow the Catholic faith. However, there still seems to be reluctance by the Vatican to be more racially inclusive in the selection process of popes. The question of whether Africa is ready for an African pope was recently raised with the consideration of Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana.

 According to a survey by CNN and mobile phone crowd-sourcing company, Jana, more than 80 percent of Africans believe the continent is ready for an African pope, but only 61% think the world is ready, according to an exclusive survey of 20,000 people in 11 countries… The survey also found that 86% thought an African pope would increase support for Catholicism in Africa.”

 Now those numbers changed among ages 13 to 19, they “…were slightly less likely to feel that their continent was ready for an African head of the church, with 22% saying it was not ready, while only 14.6% of those polled over 40 felt the same way.”

The survey did bring out skepticism of Catholicism in Africa. One Namibian man stated, “I don't have a problem [with it], but will he stop the ongoing war in some African countries? He may be like the rest and just stay in the Church; anyway they don't make any difference in Africa."

 While others saw it is a potential opportunity to unify Africa: "An African pope will bring about more unity on the continent and confidence in Africans,” said an African woman.

According to NBC News, “Since 2005, the number of Catholics on the African continent has grown by more than 20% and it is expected to continue at that pace for the next decade.”

With Catholicism growing in Africa the interest in an African pope will surely grow. Share your thoughts? Is the time ripe for an African pope?

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