Monday, April 11, 2005

A New Pope from Latin America or Africa?

As I was leaving church last Sunday, a reporter from the New York Times asked if she could ask me a few questions about the impact of John Paul II's life and death on non-Roman Catholics (although as a Mexican-American there seems to be a piece of me that feels very connected to the Catholic tradition). I mentioned that I respected the moral leadership of this Pope. Then, she asked me what issues the new Pope would need to address. Immediately, I said that I hoped the new Pope would be from Latin America. 50% of all Roman Catholics come from that part of the world, and I mentioned it would make a huge statement to the poor and marginalized of the developing world to see the most prominent religious leader in the globe to look like them.

The cynical side of me says that if most small evangelical churches (in comparison to the Roman church) would not be bold enough to select a 'minority' to lead their churches, how could I expect the largest church around to be this progressive?

While there may be more pressing issues besides the ethnic make up of our religious leaders, I suspect it was a big deal to God that Jesus entered our world incarnated as a Galilean Jew. As Orlando Costas stated, 'Galilee, the Circle of sinners.' Remember the reaction to Jesus being from this Jewish region? 'Can anything good come from Galilee?'

If I could cast a vote, I would choose to elect a Pope that reflects the face and complexion of one of my Latin American or African brothers or sisters. Just as the people of Poland rejoiced at one of their own being elected to the post of the blessed Father, so would millions be encouraged and inspired at the reality of one of our own being recognized for their spiritual leadership in this new millennium.


At 12:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think it's going to be an Italian... just a hunch...


At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Cheryl said...

Hi Noel,
I think you are right on with your comments. For so long the Catholic church as well as others have embraced the notion of Jesus being blonde and blue eyed and that notion has helped to perpetuate racism and injustice in the church body. Having a person of color as Pope would force people to deal with these issues and come to grips with them hopefully.


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