My President is Black … And So is the Pope?

African cardinals could make history if elected after Pope Benedict XVI's retirement

Cardinal Francis Arinze, of Nigeria, is being talked about as a prime candidate for pope. (Image: File)

Everyone watched in shock as news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation hit. It’s the first time since the 1400s that a leader of the Catholic Church has made such a move, causing quite an uproar and speculations of who will next take the helm.

Ironically enough, gambling bookies are taking bets on who will fill his shoes, upon his retirement Feb. 28, with popular gaming and sports blog Paddy Power citing several men of the cloth, including two African cardinals, as likely candidates.

Cardinal Francis Arinze, 80, is an Igbo Nigerian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. According to reports, he has been touted as a shoe-in since before Pope John Paul II and was a leading candidate in 2005. During the Nigeria-Biafra war, when he served as Archbishop of Onitsha, a city in southeastern Nigerian, he directed the distribution of food and medical supplies to the poor in a region. He became a cardinal in 1985 and “is known for his tolerance of elements of traditional worship in Catholic mass.”

Cardinal Peter Turkson, 64, of Ghana, is also a contender, having been a cardinal since 2003. He’s the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which works toward international advocacy of justice, peace, and human rights from the Roman Catholic Church’s perspective. Turkson speaks six languages and is the first Ghanaian cardinal, and has been described as “one of Africa’s most energetic church leaders.”

With more than 270 million Catholics of African descent worldwide, Pope Benedict’s resignation brings question of a groundbreaking succession. If either of these cardinals are elected, they will make history as the first black, modern-day pope.

  • M

    Good article, but Mrs. Hazelwood, this will be the fourth Black pope or more. There were already three African popes before the 5th century. Pope Miltiades, etc. It was not uncommon for Black people to have world prominence at the time. This is the danger of omission of other people teaching us our history, but that said, we can help one another recapture the truth of our history and as well as current achievements.

    • WOW! Thanks for this information. I found it interesting that not many mainstream U.S. media outlets were covering these black cardinals and now you have this amazing info! Thanks again!

  • wolverine

    If some Catholics in America can’t cope with their black president, how will they cope with a black pope! How many will leave the church!!