Pan Africanism : African Cardinal Wins Over Romans...

Discussion in 'Black History - Culture - Panafricanism' started by Aqil, Apr 19, 2005.

  1. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    By Peter Gould
    BBC News, Rome

    I have just been to church with a man who could become pope. In the backstreets of Rome, close to the Pantheon, is the Chiesa di San Giovanni della Pigna. It is a tiny 18th-century church with seats for just 64 people.

    There is standing room only, as local people crowd in to see the distinguished cleric who has come to celebrate mass. Cardinal Francis Arinze is seriously "papabile," which means many people think he could be the next pope. A Nigerian by birth, he has worked in Rome for many years as a senior official in the Curia, the Vatican's civil service. Like his fellow cardinals, he has been assigned a church in Rome, and this is the one he watches over.

    For now, he is doing the job of a humble parish priest. But he is about to enter the Sistine Chapel to help choose the next pope. And, as everyone here is aware, it could be him.

    Arinze, who is 72, conducts the service in fluent Italian. He is very comfortable speaking the language, an important factor in weighing up papal candidates. The congregation is made up almost entirely of Romans from the neighborhood. There are quite a few elderly people, but also some teenagers and parents with toddlers and crying babies. It is a typical Sunday morning service.

    As people head home for lunch, they talk about the man who could just become the first African pope in 1,500 years. Giovanna Manto, a 32-year-old engineer, is impressed by what she has seen. "We need an international pope who can speak to the world, not just the people of Italy," she says. "I am Italian, but I do not think nationality applies to the Church. The Church should be universal. "Why shouldn't we have a black Pope? It would help tackle problems like racism."

    Bill McGurn, an American who lives in Rome, also notes the cardinal's impeccable Italian. "He was very charismatic, and I can see he is a good communicator," he says. "He smiled a lot and we liked his sense of humor. He has a considerable presence."

    The rector of the church, Monsignor Liberio Andreatta, is still beaming, long after the cardinal has left in his chauffeur-driven car. "He has great humanity," says the rector. "He is a very humble man, very spiritual, and pays attention to the needs of the people." So will he be happy if the Nigerian is elected pope this week? "Of course," he says. "The Church speaks in many languages, but nationality does not matter."

    I found these responses interesting, as there is a widespread belief that Italy must want the papacy back. Before the election of John Paul II in 1978, the papacy had been in Italian hands for 455 years. Today, the Vatican employs people of many nationalities, but the working language of the Curia is still Italian. "The Italians want the papacy back because they think they do it best," I was told.

    But away from the Vatican, out on the streets of Rome, many Italians seem less concerned with the nationality of the next pope. "I like Cardinal Tettamanzi and Cardinal Martini, but it is not important to have an Italian pope," says 70-year-old Marisa Belate. "It would be better if the next pope came from Latin America. He could really help that part of the world, like John Paul II helped Poland."

    Those sentiments are even stronger among the younger generation of Italians. "I don't want an Italian pope," says Sylvia Rossini, a student from Perugia. "I want a change, someone different. It doesn't matter where he is from. The important thing is that he is a good person." Keana Teghini, a 24-year-old airline steward, agrees. "Someone from outside Italy would be better," she says. "It is important to unite other countries and other religions, and an Italian pope might restrict this."

    "John Paul II was a great pope, but he went off round the world, and Rome lost importance," says Gabriele Cimarelli. "I think an Italian pope would bring the focus back to Rome, and make it the most important place, like it was in the past." And whoever moves into the papal apartment, they will not need reminding about the need to keep the locals happy. The pope is not just the supreme pontiff of the universal church. He is also the Bishop of Rome.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/4454759.stm
     
  2. panafrica

    panafrica Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    He might have won over the Romans, but he didn't win over the Vatican, because a German was named Pope!
     
  3. Aqil

    Aqil Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Yeah Pan...maybe next time!
     
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