Alas, No African Pope

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In a stiff blow to Africa’s hopes, the College of Cardinals elected Germany’s Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new pope. Nigeria’s Francis Cardinal Arinze had been touted as a leading candidate—Africa has the highest growth rate of the Catholic church anywhere in the world.

Yet many ordinary people interviewed by The Black Star News had indicated skepticism that the 116 cardinals in their secretive vote would elect a Black Pope. Also, a poll of our readers showed 85% didn’t believe Arinze would get the nod. “Hell will freeze over before an African in elected,� said James Fleming, a student at Hunter College, interviewed in the streets of Harlem before the vote was announced today. “It’s not like the church is a Democracy you know.�

Another observer, Caroline Brown, was more blunt: “Everything about the church is secretive. Given their views on Gay people do you think they are really going to elect a Black Pope. Who knows their real views on race matters. Get real. I think what the Africans need to do is to break away and start their own branch of the Catholic church---then they can elect Arinze as their Pope. Why do they need the Vatican?�

Ratzinger’s election was announced today by Chile’s Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez. Ratzinger will now be known as Benedict XVI. In a statement, Pope Benedict XVI said: “Dear brothers and sisters, the great pope, John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me to work in the vineyard of the Lord. I am consoled by the fact that I entrust myself to your prayers.�

The new Pope is 78 years old. He was archbishop of Munich, in the past. He was John Paul II’s chief theological adviser for more than two decades.

For more reports please order the newsstand edition of The Black Star News by calling (212) 481-7745 or clicking on “subscribe� on our home page.

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