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An African Pope?
April 8, 2002 9:16 AM   Subscribe

An African Pope? Rock on. (Via Fark.)
posted by artifex (32 comments total)

 
"White folks only want to hear the good shit: life eternal, a place in God's Heaven. But as soon as they hear they're getting this good shit from a black Jesus, they freak. And that, my friends, is called hypocrisy. A black man can steal your stereo, but he can't be your Savior."

- Rufus (the 13th Apostle), 'Dogma'
posted by Perigee at 9:59 AM on April 8, 2002


It's somewhat hinted at, but not explicitly stated, in the article -- the Pope is chosen by the cardinals in conclave, by election. But not by a normal election. Here is more info about this. They try to elect by two-thirds majority, and they keep doing the elections until they get that majority, or they've hit 30 elections. After that, they can elect by simple majority.

This is good news, because though racism (or the Italians wanting another Italian Pope, which seems greedy to me. I mean, they've had the papacy for almost 500 years running!) might prevent one of the African candidates from getting a 2/3 majority, it might not be enough to prevent one garnering a simple majority. As well, any cardinal over 80 years of age can't vote (though they =can= be elected Pope), so this may cut down on the objections from old-timers.

I think it would be great to have an African Pope (I'm Roman Catholic).
posted by meep at 10:21 AM on April 8, 2002


What the hell? Jesus wasn't black...anybody wanna tell me that upper Egyptians and Arabians are black? What a troll.

And an African pope? Awesome indeed...I'm told that Etheopian Orthodox Catholicism is one of the Christian sects that is closest to what Christianity was 1900 years ago.

But, I hope they are worldly enough to move the church forward, instead of miring it down in third-world superstitions. Do we really want a pope who might have been present at his niece's circumcision?
posted by taumeson at 10:25 AM on April 8, 2002


There's no mention in this article that the guy would be black. There are plenty of white Africans, and I would wager that, unfortunately, they'd be much more likely choices.

What a troll.

Who's trolling who?
posted by jpoulos at 10:28 AM on April 8, 2002


no trolling taumeson, he was just quoting Dogma, which is a movie.

Changes are happening in the racial demographics of all the big missionary churches. Wonder how long it will take for a black-african Mormon church president.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:41 AM on April 8, 2002


Let's see...The current pope is Polish. We've had at least one Spanish and one Greek pope, each. I seem to recall there being a white pope from an African nation. I have to keep looking through a List of Popes to see if I'm remembering it correctly. The vast majority of popes have been Italian. (Of course, the first pope was not Italian. He was Jewish; like Jesus.)
posted by onhazier at 10:43 AM on April 8, 2002


A bit off topic, but does anyone know of a decent history of the popes? I'm not looking for a spiritual type of book but more of a historical look at the papacy.

Everytime I go to the bookstore, the only books talking about the Popes seem to be in the religion section and more often than not have a more spiritual slant to them.
posted by smcniven at 10:45 AM on April 8, 2002


The quote was from a Kevin Smith film called 'Dogma', taumeson - not a popular one for Catholics, because it pricked several holes in the current state of the church and organized religion. For instance, why is it so important to you that Jesus NOT be black? Would it have been important to Him?

Actually, according to the latest BBC anthropoligical musisngs, Jesus probably looked something like This. Not like This.

The younger generations may be fine with the concept of an African Pope... but will the older people, who supply the majority of the wealth of the church? Politically, I don't think it's going to happen.
posted by Perigee at 10:52 AM on April 8, 2002


(For christ's sake, I was about to say)...who cares? The Church's upper echilons are dead men walking. They have no significant influence in the world and are the last vestige of an institution that has been superceded by...well...reality.
posted by 327.ca at 10:58 AM on April 8, 2002


But, I hope they are worldly enough to move the church forward, instead of miring it down in third-world superstitions.

In the name of the father, the son, and the holy ghost, let's avoid the racist stereotypes ok?
posted by sudama at 11:14 AM on April 8, 2002


They have no significant influence in the world and are the last vestige of an institution that has been superceded by...well...reality.

Wow, way to summarily underestimate the clout of an organization claiming international membership and financial support in the hundreds of millions. I'm not Catholic, but I don't see the Catholic Church going away anytime soon. Sure, it might be irrelevant to you, but isn't that a pretty self-centered point of view to be expounding as reality for everyone else?

What the hell? Jesus wasn't black...anybody wanna tell me that upper Egyptians and Arabians are black? What a troll.

There are/were plenty of African Jews. And what do you know about the complexion of people that have been dead for 2000 years?
posted by insomnyuk at 11:14 AM on April 8, 2002


What fascinates me is how people of different races yet the same religion can manage to discriminate against one another.
posted by black8 at 11:33 AM on April 8, 2002


A bit off topic, but does anyone know of a decent history of the popes?

You might try Eamon Duffy's Saints and Sinners. I've only skimmed it briefly, but it looks like what you want: it's a balanced historical overview by an outstanding Catholic scholar, aimed at a general audience.
posted by thomas j wise at 12:41 PM on April 8, 2002


but will the older people, who supply the majority of the wealth of the church? Politically, I don't think it's going to happen.
It doesn't matter what the older people think. The Church is FAR from a Democracy, or any symbolance of it. The Conclave of Cardinals vote, usually regardless of what us little peons think.
On Dogma, Catholic or Christian bashing usually annoys me a lot, but i LOVE Dogma. Especially the 'Rufus' quote, as many of the older conservatives are still racist. The movie does poke many holes at Catholicism that I one should think about, rather than just blasting. GREAT movie.
posted by jmd82 at 12:44 PM on April 8, 2002


And what do you know about the complexion of people that have been dead for 2000 years?

Is that supposed to be a grand mystery? Anthropologists have been telling the world that Jesus probably does not look anything like Kenny Rogers for a while now. I've been around the Mediterranian and the pasty-white western European or American simply doesn't exist there in non-tourist form.

The black Jesus theory is pretty academic. Does it matter how modern followers portray him? Its like the old "if god is a He then he is a male who has a penis, if he has a penis what size is it and whats it used for?"

Is accuracy important to the religious? I don't think so, as long as whatever is the current message gets passed, the facts or old traditions don't really matter. I'm not expecting someone to buy a copy of this and hang it on the wall for the sake of accuracy.
posted by skallas at 12:52 PM on April 8, 2002


I may be a cynical little heathen, but I've always looked at the Catholic church as more of a business. And, as a business, you give the people what they want. The church has excelled in this for the past 1700 years, bending their own rules and gerrymandering other belief systems and competing holy days to fit the locals tastes.

I have no personal animosity towards it; in a way I admire that kind of savvy. But the fact remains, this is what the church does - how it survives a changing world.

And, in any business, you try not to piss off your largest investors. And your largest investors aren't neccessarily the ones who are of the greatest number. In the churches case, it's the ones who tithe the most money to the church on a consistent basis. That's not likely to be either the younger generations, nor those in third-world nations.

So, I'm Absolutely with you, jmd - agree with your precepts completely. But I really do believe the older conservatives are the ones who are supporting the church most, in a monetary sense... and the church is politic enough not to alienate its financial bae.
posted by Perigee at 1:00 PM on April 8, 2002


Jesus has a Karl Malden nose.
posted by solistrato at 1:01 PM on April 8, 2002


Pope St. Gelasius I, pope from 492-496, was said to have been a Roman citizen born in Africa.
posted by onhazier at 1:30 PM on April 8, 2002


Is that supposed to be a grand mystery?

Skallas, I was responding to someone who said that Jesus could not have been black. Sheesh, I agree with you, but you took my quote out of context. To me it doesn't matter what color his skin was. The bible never really describes his appearance.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:33 PM on April 8, 2002


Carindal Arinze's most definitely black. Unless the definition's changed. (Apparently he's from Nigeria.) The scuttlebutt that he's on the short list has been making the rounds for some time -- it was on several web pages.

There are three so-called "African Popes": Pope St. Victor I, Pope Miltiades, and the aforementioned Gelasius. It's hard to say with certainty, but they were probably ethnically Phoenician (Punic), Latin, Visigothic/Vandal, Berber, or Egyptian, rather than black. Africa, to the Romans, was the coastal region of the continent roughly corresponding to Algeria and Libya -- the regions of former Carthage.

Via Googlecache, the left-wing journal Le Monde Diplomatique had an in-depth report covering the various geographic and reform-minded factions jockeying for position. I don't know if Arinze is really a favorite, or whether people who would like him to be are trying to leak his name to give his sails some wind. He'd mix apparent boldness in diversity with an acceptably conservative outlook is my take. That article focuses more on candidates like Latin America's Cardinal Maradiaga.
posted by dhartung at 1:54 PM on April 8, 2002


I said Jesus wasn't black...I didn't say he was white, of course. Anyone read Parke Godwin? I'm not advocating the "White Christian Jesus Christ" by any means. I just think it's important to not be wrong.

And frankly, I'm safe when I say that Africa and Asia have some of the more non-industrialized societies, in general. I don't think it's stereotypical to be wary of a person of religious importance coming from an area of the globe not known for it's forward-thinking.

But I really do believe the older conservatives are the ones who are supporting the church most, in a monetary sense

Hmm....IMHO, I always thought it was the masses of work-a-day and go to church on Sunday types that supported the church. Come to think of it...that would rule out a non-caucasian Pope (based on your idea of not alienating your investors) moreso than worrying about older conservatives.
posted by taumeson at 2:46 PM on April 8, 2002


Hmm....IMHO, I always thought it was the masses of work-a-day and go to church on Sunday types that supported the church.
From personal experience (for better for worse is up for debate), I have found this not to be true. I go to one of the richest Churches in ATL, and a few elite money-givers there definitely have their say (unfortunately, they ran out a very conservative, oriental Priest and another Indian Priest). I think it could be likened to what is considered the big gap of wealth in the US, where a small minority hold an overly-proportanite amount of wealth, hence most the wealth of the Chuch's income comes from the rich. Oh, and a LOT of the funds comes from investments (my aunt is a Nun, and her order has millions upon millions of dollars invested)
posted by jmd82 at 3:01 PM on April 8, 2002


As admittedly not Catholic, I'm not sure if this is still an active admonition, but the concept of tithing was predicated on the 'first 10% of your income' to the church. My assumption (and only an assumption) is simply that the older, more devout and conservative Catholics would have the income that would make that amount disposable... or would consider it necessary because of their sctict adherence to the Catholic line.

According to "The Search for Common Ground: What Unites and Divides Catholic Americans," the elder Catholics are much more likely to play the line straight, and pay their strict share... and have been established long enough that their share is appreciably higher than those in their 20's and thirties.

And you may well be right; I'm not sure if it would make a difference anyway. Living in the Philadelphia area, I can assure you that even those living on average salaries or less are not free of prejudice, and may not take the assumption of an African Pope as a welcome thing out on the stoops and over the backyard fences.
posted by Perigee at 3:07 PM on April 8, 2002


Sheesh, I agree with you, but you took my quote out of context.

Sorry, I must have missed something there. Actually there is an oft-quoted biblical passage that's usually used to defend the non-Kenny Rogers Jesus hypothesis.
Revelation 1:12-16?

And when I turned I saw someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice like the sound of rushing water. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
The curly white hair and bronze feet part is what some people say prove Jesus was black, though its pretty obvious this is metaphor and not a actual description of a person. Also, white hair? Yeah, there's a real black trait.
posted by skallas at 3:09 PM on April 8, 2002


There is an old phrase in Rome,

"He who walks in the Conclave a Pope, walks out a Cardinal."

What this means that the Conclave, surely one of the most distinctive voting processes around, is veery hard to predict and even has a tendency to be contrary to the favourites going in. When Karol Wojtyla was announced as the new Pope, Catholics around the world made a collective "Bwu?" sound. I mean, he was a real dark horse.

Personally I would welcome Francis Cardinal Arinze as my new Pope but I wouldn't bet on it.
posted by Dagobert at 3:20 PM on April 8, 2002


I have to think that nothing could shake up the state of race relations worldwide as violently as the installation of a black African as Pope, with the choice of a Latin American running a close second. I would be happy to live in a time when something like this happens. I wonder how old I'll actually be before it does.
posted by Dreama at 3:35 PM on April 8, 2002


I thought black people were the same as white people????? Am I mixed up or read something wrong somewhere sometime??? Plz explain I must have been dropped on my head when I was a little baby boy, and I eat things I find on the ground..>!???
posted by Settle at 4:02 PM on April 8, 2002


"Also, white hair? Yeah, there's a real black trait."

You've never seen a senior citizen? Sheesh.

Settle: no, they're not the same. The white ones have an unhealthy complexion.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:40 PM on April 8, 2002


Wow, way to summarily underestimate the clout of an organization claiming international membership and financial support in the hundreds of millions. I'm not Catholic, but I don't see the Catholic Church going away anytime soon. Sure, it might be irrelevant to you, but isn't that a pretty self-centered point of view to be expounding as reality for everyone else?

I was commenting on the Church's upper echilons, imsomnyuk -- i.e., pope and confreres, the Good Old Boys. One of the ironies of the Church is that so many in its lowest ranks are the best examples of the things it purports to believe.
posted by 327.ca at 6:10 PM on April 8, 2002


By the way, I'm black.
posted by Settle at 8:25 PM on April 8, 2002


Congratulations. What's your point?
posted by Optamystic at 8:58 PM on April 8, 2002


Last I'd heard, a Columbian was the frontrunner for the papacy, which would be just as important. The word 'election' is somewhat insulting to fundamentalist Catholics, though, since the cardinals are 'divinely guided' in their choice of the next Pope.
posted by Kevs at 10:10 PM on April 8, 2002


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