April 1, 2005


Francis Arinze: First black pope? (UWE SIEMON-NETTO, 4/01/05, UPI)

If Cardinal Francis Arinze were to be elected the first black pope, this would simply reflect a Christian reality, Roman Catholic or otherwise. Africa has become Christianity's powerhouse. It is on that continent that the body of Christ grows most robustly, while it ails in the secularized Northern Hemisphere. [...]

In dealing with non-Christians, Arinze displays great intellectual clarity that is helpful for Christians struggling with the daunting question of whether others, too, can be saved. Arinze stays well clear of syncretism. "The other religions are expressions of the human soul seeking God, with some beautiful spiritual insights, but also not without error. Christianity is rather God seeking humanity," he once said, adding that those who do not know Christ are still included in God's plan for salvation.

But he went on, "There are ... conditions. They (the non-Christians) must be sincere in their seeking of God. They must be open to the secret but real action of the Holy Spirit in them. They should follow their conscience in all matters of right and wrong."

He is an easy-going, humorous man who loves a good laugh -- and sports, especially soccer and tennis. But when it comes to doctrine, he is as hardnosed as John Paul II. Arinze does not shy away from reading self-indulgent Westerners the riot act.

Earlier in 2003, he shocked students and professors at Washington's Georgetown University when he told them in a commencement speech: "In many parts of the world, the family is under siege, opposed by an anti-life mentality as seen in contraception, abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. It is scorned and banalized by pornography, desecrated by fornication and adultery, mocked by homosexuality, sabotaged by irregular unions, and cut in two by divorce."

At 71, Arinze is the perfect age for a pope.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 1, 2005 7:27 PM

How did he even get invited to address Georgetown?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 1, 2005 7:51 PM

Quota hire. Little did they know...

Posted by: oj at April 1, 2005 7:54 PM

He'd be a great Pope. I hope he's selected. Schonborn or Ratzinger would be great as well, but Arinze would be wonderful for Africa and the Church both.

Please, no Latin Americans.

Posted by: pj at April 1, 2005 9:16 PM

It sounds like Ratzinger gets it as a kind of transitional figure, no?

Posted by: oj at April 1, 2005 9:19 PM

Jesuits are not Catholic enough for this group, eh?

Posted by: ghostcat at April 1, 2005 9:33 PM

i was reading an article about how christianity in africa and other developing parts of the world has many of the characteristics of the early days of christianity. hopefully, maybefully, this will lead to a rejuvination in the western world.

Posted by: cjm at April 1, 2005 10:06 PM

oj - I don't know that a transitional figure is needed. Unlikely the cardinals will need more time for back-room intrigue; JPII's passing has been foreseen for some time. Ratzinger would be a compromise candidate I think, just as appointing an 80 year old to the US Supreme Court would be a compromise move for President Bush.

ghostcat - As a general rule, Jesuits cannot serve as bishops, and therefore are not considered as candidates for Pope. Some Jesuits, like Avery Dulles, are certainly Catholic enough to be Pope, if they were from a pastoral order.

PS to my earlier comment - Lustiger would be a great pope as well.

Posted by: pj at April 1, 2005 11:12 PM

I think Arinze is more likely than Ratzinger, because he could lead a revival of the Church that is sorely needed. I think many cardinals are looking at Europe's repudiation of Christianity and feeling that an evangelist is needed. Arinze can be that. Schonborn would be beloved as Pope, but he's young enough to have another chance. Lustiger's Jewishness is more pleasing to Americans than Europeans, and at a time when European cardinals are very worried about church relations with Muslims, I think they will be cautious toward him, holy though he is. Ratzinger is a great man and fine bishop, but I'm not sure he'll excite anyone. I think Arinze has a great shot, but then I'm probably thinking with my heart.

Posted by: pj at April 1, 2005 11:22 PM


Thank you. I was mostly responding to the comment about Arinze being invited to speak at Georgetown.

Posted by: ghostcat at April 1, 2005 11:45 PM

pj -

Back to thank you again. I turned my back on the Church in 1965 and haven't kept track of what's happened to the Jesuits since that time. Your comment provoked some Googling. Egad.

Posted by: ghostcat at April 2, 2005 12:15 AM

Arinze roars like a lion! If he's the one, I'd suggest he take the name Leo XIV.

Posted by: Dave W. at April 2, 2005 12:18 AM

In theory (though not practice), any "good" practicing Catholic elegible for the priesthood can be elected pope. Even our own rebellous Jesuit, Harry, could be the next pope, in theory anyway.
You could take the name Hilarius II if elected.

Posted by: Dave W. at April 2, 2005 1:15 AM

ghostcat - I'm afraid to ask what keywords you paired with 'Jesuit.'

Dave - Good one (Leo, I mean). If Hilarius II were elected, would Protestants think the Antichrist had arrived?

Posted by: pj at April 2, 2005 8:38 AM

Damien would certainly scare the beejeebies out of us.

Posted by: oj at April 2, 2005 8:47 AM

Yes, especially if it were Harry!

Posted by: at April 2, 2005 1:57 PM


You bet we would. And to show our determination to fight Him, we would all sit down in a circle and talk about love.

Posted by: Peter B at April 2, 2005 8:26 PM