Africa Proud Of Its Cardinals
"Habemus Papam" was echoed by the Chilean Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, Senior Cardinal in the order of Deacons as he appeared on the balcony to announce the selection of a new Pontiff.
Turkson, Azinze, Tumi, Pengo and others look like a international law firm, but they are among the 115 Gantin and cardinals from 52 countries who attended the conclave to elect a pope. In the end they elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany the 265th pope aka Pope Benedict XVI. Eleven out of fifteen African cardinals were eligible to succeed Pope John Paul II.
Prior to the election at the conclave via the Sistine Chapel, there was news circulating over the media regarding the call by the world renowned South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu who had supported calls for the next pope to be African.
The pride of Ghana, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson called "Ghana Pope" by popular demand and also Ghanaweb's 2003 Person of the Year was quoted as saying on BBC that, by creating so many African cardinals in his time, Pope John Paul II acknowledged the importance of Africa. He continues; "I 've always interpreted the creation of these cardinals as recognition of the growth and maturity of the African church".
There had been a growing interest in the possibility of an African successor to John Paul II. Out of the eleven cardinals, one African from Nigeria's name stood tall as widely tipped to be the next Papal. It was encouraging to see his name in every medium; magazines, newspapers, web sites and on television. We should be proud to say this West African has made Africa proud.
Cardinal Francis Arinze was tipped as the papal successor. He would have been the first Pope from Africa in 1,500 years. He is also the number four person in the Catholic hierarchy. One Italian in Rome was seen on NBC TV mentioning Azinze's name just like many who agree with him.
The African Pope's elevation never happened and as someone would say "better luck next time" or "Nice try". Whether an African was voted or not, we are proud that Azinze was one of the cardinals tipped as the next pope by the worldwide media. We have endured so much predjudicism and racism throughout the years and finally they have been recognized based on merit than skin color. There was never a single news segment which did not mention his name as among the favorites .
A.B. Assensoh & Yvette Alex-Assensoh, a couple got married and spent part of their honeymoon and did a follow up research visits to Europe at the Vatican. They gave their account in a column written for the Indiana-based Bloomington Herald-Times (H-T.) They wrote that Cardinal Azinze on January 29, 1996 was appointed by the late Pope John Paul II as Cardinal-Priest of St. Giovanni della Pigna. When he turned 69 on October 1, 2002, Cardinal Arinze was appointed Prefect of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments of the Roman Curia. He held that position till he resigned on April 2, 2005. The West African Cardinal's importance and closeness to the late Pope John Paul, according to sources from the Vatican made him a viable candidate for the papacy.
It gave an example as, "at the Vatican on October 11, 2004, (as the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments) Pope John Paul II selected Cardinal Arinze to present his apostolic letter that was titled in Latin as Mane Nobiscum Domine. The pope's letter had an introduction, four chapters and a conclusion, and it was presented in what the Catholic Church labeled in 2004 as an Eucharistic Year. Subsequently, Pope John Paul II entrusted the observance of the Year of the Eucharist to the pastoral attention of Catholic bishops throughout the world, especially -- as Cardinal Arinze, on behalf of the pope -- underscored inter alia from the letter: "The way in which we celebrate Mass must manifest our acute awareness of the real presence of Christ."
"If Cardinal Arinze becomes the next pope he, reportedly, will be the fourth African to sit on the throne of St. Peter. Experts, quoting the Catholic Encyclopedia, have named his predecessors as Pope Victor (ca. AD 183-203); Pope Mechiades or Militiades (ca. AD 311-314) and Pope Gelasius (AD 492-496). However, given the mixed color of the skins of these three former "minority" popes, if selected, 73-year old Cardinal Arinze will become the first total "black" pope from sub-Saharan Africa"
Ghanaweb salutes Cardinals Turkson, Azinze and all the African cardinals who participated with dignity at the conclave to elect Pope Benedict XVI. It is our hope and prayer that one day we will see an African Pope elected and that will be historical.
A salutation in the highest degree goes to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger now Pope Benedict XVI for his elevation and he also turns 78 on April 23rd.