The above scenario may be fiction however, many think that
probability of having a pope that is of non-European is greater now than ever.
If this or a similar scenario happens, surely it would send
shock waves throughout the world. The church has not had a pope of African
descent since Pope Gelasius, the 49th successor of St. Peter in the late 5th
century, AD. Besides, Gelasius, the Catholic Encyclopedia noted two other popes
that have been non-European. Those popes are Victor I (the 14th successor of
Peter [189-198 A.D] noted for being the first pope to speak Latin) and Miltiades
(311-314 A.D the 32nd successor of Peter.)
Surely, the election of an African pope or a pope that is
non-European would not only be historic but also have a monumental impact on
people throughout the world. Just as the election of Barrack Obama, the 44th
president of the United States had in 2008 and the elevation of Polish John Paul
II to the papacy in 1978. John Paul made history becoming the first non-Italian
pope since 1523.
Even before his election as president of the free world Obama
had an extremely high favorable rating of 70 percent according to a November
Gallup Poll. His popularity denoted him as that of a “rock star,” on the world
circuit during his election campaign against then-Republican presidential
nominee John McCain. Throughout the president’s first term and in the beginning
of his second term Obama seemed to maintain a highly favorable worldwide
likability. Many contribute this to Obama charismatic personality and his
ability to relate to the common person.
However, years before most would ever contemplate that the
United States would elect a black president, the Catholic Church may have lead
the trend in historic world movements by electing a little priest, who grew up
in communist Poland, Karol Józef Wojtyła. Wojtyła electrified the world with his
no nonsense charisma—as Pope John Paul II.
The election of a non-European pope may even overshadow
President Obama on world events. It would even overshadow increased rhetoric
from North Korea, the Syrian Civil War, unrest in Egypt, and the upcoming
presidential elections in Venezuela.
There may also be a social domestic tug-of-war if the new pope
is a person of color. These would be two leaders with extreme influence - one
based on political status of the United States and the other based on spiritual,
traditional and the nostalgia of a new official. A black pope would lead on
moral and social conscience issues such as: contraception, abortions and gay
Fr. Alfonzo Erestain, 76, a former retired chaplin of the US
Navy, who now serves as a priest at the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C.,
welcomes the idea of a non-European pope.
“I would like to see an Asian [pope,]" Erestain said.
“I am praying. I pray for one hour every day. We have [had]
many from Europe,” the Philippine-American Chaplin said. “The cardinals would be
led by the holy spirit.”
Erestain believes that the idea of a non-European pope would
be an important milestone in the 2000-year old institution. “It would show our
diversity and how we embrace culture,” he said.
However, Erestain did note that such a move by the church
might take time for many to get used to, “One of the challenges would be
(Simmon's is a proud Catholic)