The head honcho of the Catholic Church, commonly known as the Pope and more formally as the Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City and Servant of the Servants of God, Pope Benedict XVI yesterday dropped a shocker on the world yesterday when he announced his intention to resign on the 28th of this month.
He cited deterioration of “strength of mind and body” as the main reason he is hanging his robes. I wonder how God’s chosen can choose to be ‘unchosen’. Strange times these.
This of course means quite a number of things, firstly the Pope becomes the first one to resign in almost 600 years, and his reason for doing so will be hard to swallow. Especially for those of us who live in Africa, after all who resigns because of age? And at the sprightly age of 85? We have men much older than him managing things down here, who else can manage, when age brings with it wisdom? The conspiracy theorists will be sent into overdrive by this- expect all sorts of rubbish about anti-christs and cover-ups.
It also means there’s now officially a job vacancy in the Vatican, one whose requirements are not that stringent: the applicant only needs to be male and a baptized Catholic. You’ll stand better chance if you are a Cardinal though- only Cardinals have been elected since the 14th century. But if you meet the criteria you may be lucky, stranger things have happened before.
More importantly, it seems likely, well, more likely than before, that we might have a fourth African Pope and the first in 1500 years since two of the leading contenders are brothers from the ‘dark continent’. I know you’ve probably never heard of an African Pope but they have been there before, three blessed guys from the Roman province of Africa. That’s a very long time ago, way before the slave trade. It seems Africa was not always a dark continent.
In case you were wondering, the two guys who may do an ‘Obama’ to the Church are Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana and Nigeria’s Francis Arinze-who incidentally lost to the current Pope in 2005. Nigerians are never left out of anything important.
Predicting these things is never easy, as the old men who do the voting are secretive to a fault. Besides the selection is for a spiritual post and is supposed to be done with God’s guidance, and I cannot ever claim to know what God thinks, no man can.
If one of these guys successfully ‘Obamas’ the Church expect more theories concerning the end of the world. I remember one saying the world will end after a black man ascends the Papal throne.
I wish them success, change is always a good thing- even at the expense of a few thousand old white women who might die of shock, and some African American brothers failing to comprehend why a ‘nigga’ would be made Pope.
I also wish them strength, must be tiring business that, being responsible for the spiritual welfare of a billion people. Praying for the souls of millions of thieves, adulterers and hypocrites will suck the energy out of any man.
And we really could use a Pope of our own, after Papal blessing the Italian team won the World Cup in 2006. I really want the World Cup to come to Africa.