I saw a very interesting article today in the Vancouver Sun. It says that we could be in for an African pope within the next month or so. It requires evil registration, so I’ll fill in the blanks. Francis Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria has been popping up a lot in conversations about the Pope’s successor. This is due to his strong personal relationship with the former Pontiff and Africa’s increased profile in the Church (due in no small part to Pope John Paul II himself). Electing an African pope would also cement the church’s position with the third world and the poor.
This may be my boyish idealism showing through, but I think Arinze would be a logical choice for the new pope. The article also mentioned that he shares Pope John Paul’s positions on sexual freedom, so politically he wouldn’t rock the boat too much. But more importantly, the election of Arinze would keep with the spirit of Pope John Paul’s work with the Catholic church. He was much more than just an old man with a funny hat. Armed with modern media technology, Pope John Paul II brought the station of the pope into people’s homes on an unprecedented scale. You can even read his sermons right here.
An African Pope would be on every newscast, newspaper, talk-show monologue, comedy routine, protest song, right-left-chicken wing blog in the universe. And that Pope will tell you, “The world is not as it should be, but it could be if you believe.” It’s that message of the future shared by all religions, and by all people who want to leave this world in a better state than when they were dropped into it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in the man’s sexual politics, or that he’s infallible, or anything else. At the core is a belief in the future, in hope, in possibility. Sometimes that’s the only thing that gets you up in the morning.