[Paleopsych] AP: Prospect of Third World Pope Excites Some
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Mon Apr 4 17:29:14 UTC 2005
Prospect of Third World Pope Excites Some
Filed at 8:06 a.m. ET
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- As cardinals rushed to the Vatican on Sunday to
begin the process of selecting a new pope, many back home were asking
a pointed question: If most of the world's Roman Catholics live in the
developing world, why has every pope been European?
The possibility that the next pope could come from Latin America,
Africa or Asia is creating a buzz from Mexico City to Manila, from
Tegucigalpa to Kinshasa. Many Latin American Catholics said the only
way to improve on a papacy they overwhelmingly supported would be to
select someone from their own ranks.
Their hopes were fueled by the last papal conclave, in which a Polish
archbishop became the first non-Italian pope in 455 years, as well as
by the global outreach John Paul II made the cornerstone of his
papacy. They also have been boosted by sheer numbers: Half the world's
1 billion Roman Catholics live in Latin America alone, and the church
is seeing explosive growth in Africa and Asia.
Even outside Roman Catholicism, leaders from the developing world saw
a chance for change.
``We hope that perhaps the cardinals when they meet will follow the
first non-Italian pope by electing the first African pope,'' Anglican
Archbishop Desmond Tutu said Sunday from Cape Town, South Africa.
Many Catholics in poor countries said a pope from their own regions
would better understand the challenges they face, and would make the
church more relevant in the lives of its increasingly diverse
``It will further help the church, whose membership is growing fastest
in Asia, Africa and Latin America, if a new pope emerges from one of
those areas,'' said Isidore Chukwuemeka, a Catholic in Lagos, Nigeria.
``That will help build loyalty in the universal church and reassure
people that the rich countries are not calling the shots.''
While several names from developing countries have been mentioned as
candidates, it is unclear what kind of chance Third World religious
leaders stand. Only 21 of the cardinals eligible to vote on the new
pontiff are from Latin America and the Caribbean, and only 11 from
Africa, compared with 58 from Europe alone.
The Dominican Republic's Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez,
who will participate in the conclave, said the next pope should be
oriented toward Latin America, but he stopped short of saying the
pontiff should be a native of the region.
``The majority of Catholics in the world are in Latin America, so
whoever is elected should focus on this continent,'' Lopez Rodriguez
told reporters after celebrating a Mass at Santo Domingo Cathedral.
Hundreds of Dominicans cheered and wished the 68-year-old cardinal
well after the Mass, with many chanting ``we hope they pick you.''
Vatican observers disagree over the amount of pressure there will be
to return the papacy to an Italian -- Italy still has 20 voting-age
cardinals, by far the largest group -- or whether the conclave could
expand the message of universality by selecting a candidate from a
Church leaders insist the cardinals' decision will not be based on a
geographical calculation. The candidates, they say, will be judged by
their faith and their ability to lead.
``It won't matter where he comes from, from which continent,'' Sao
Paulo, Brazil Archbishop Claudio Hummes, who is often mentioned as a
candidate, said Friday after Mass.
``It will matter that the cardinals will be in front of God, under
oath, and they will have to choose the one they think is the man for
this moment in the history of the church and the world.''
But across the globe, many of the faithful suggested that kind of talk
was merely diplomacy.
``We hope that his successor will be a black person from the African
continent,'' said Patrique Ngoma, a 20-year-old student attending Mass
in Kinshasa, Congo.
``It would be better to have a Latin American pope, someone on our
side,'' said Anjelica Navarro, 30, as she cooked up blue-corn
tortillas stuffed with fragrant meat and onions at a stand in downtown
Andres Nunez, 67, who co-owns a nearby hardware store, was more blunt:
``It's about time we got something!''
But beyond the national rivalries, many said a Latin American pope
would help the church counter Protestant evangelism, and a Third World
pope with roots among the poor would be better able to respond to the
most pressing needs of his flock.
``As an African, he would be able to better engage himself in the
battle against poverty, which he himself would know and have
conquered,'' Ngoma said.
Jorge Rouillon, who writes on religious issues for the Argentine daily
La Nacion, said choosing a Third World candidate for the papacy would
make the church appear more in tune with the modern world.
``He could be the image of a universal church that we have seen more
of in recent years,'' he said.
Some Catholics in developing countries, despite their faith in the
church, were pessimistic about the chances of seeing a non-European
pope. They accused the church of racism.
``I doubt that the white man will allow a black man to become pope,''
said Chinyere Osigwe, 40, at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Lagos.
Others, while wishing for a pope from their own ranks, simply lowered
their expectations. Andrea Villaruel, 36, begged for pocket change for
her 11 children on the steps of the San Isidro Cathedral in Buenos
Aires, Argentina, and praised the last pope for speaking so many
``John Paul II has been one of the greatest,'' she said. ``Well, I
hope the next one also speaks Spanish.''
Associated Press writers Tales Azzoni in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Bill
Cormier in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Freddy Cuevas in Tegucigalpa,
Honduras; Eddy Isango in Kinshasa, Congo; Dulue Mbachu in Lagos,
Nigeria; Peter Muello in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Will Weissert in
Mexico City; and David Koop in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed to
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