The inspiring heritage of Africa's three popes
- There's been a lot of talk about it being time for the
first non-European pope, but we've been forgetting to
check the history books. More on these guys can be
[ TUESDAY, APRIL 05, 2005 01:12:10 AM ]
MUMBAI/DUBLIN: Is the world ready for an African Pope?
It was 1,500 years ago. The first African pope, Victor
I, came from North Africa and was the 15th pope.
According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, the most
comprehensive guide to church history and
personalities, it was Victor who decided that Easter
would always be celebrated on a Sunday as opposed to
the 14th day of the moon. He was also the first to
make Latin the liturgical language of the Church and
is buried in St Peter's basilica in Vatican City.
The next African pope, Militiades, decreed that none
of the faithful should fast on Sunday or on the fifth
day of the week because this was a custom of the
It was in his time that Constantine became Emperor and
presented the Roman Church with the Lateran Palace
which became the papal residence and administrative
The third pope from Africa, Pope Gelasius I, is
credited with showing the temporal power its place in
Rome.''There are two powers by which chiefly this
world is ruled: the sacred authority of the priesthood
and the authority of kings. And of these, the
authority of the priests is much the weightier, as
they must render before the tribunal of God, and
account even for the kings of men,'' he once wrote
according to the Catholic Encyclopaedia.
It's a heritage that must surely inspire Cardinal
Arinze of Nigeria, specially now that bookies have
made him a frontrunner to be the next Pope.
More than 5,000 people have placed bets on who will be
the next pope with Paddy Power PLC, Ireland's largest
Betting resumed on Monday in shops and on the Internet
on the question, ''Who will be the next pope?'' The
firm had suspended betting for one day (Sunday) out of
respect to John Paul, who died on Saturday.
The biggest bet so far, $1,300, has been on Dionigi
Tettamanzi. Arinze is also a hot favourite, with Oscar
Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, Joseph Ratzinger and
Claudio Hummes following.
Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino of Cuba, Ennio Antonelli
of Italy and Christoph Schoenborn of Austria come in
after the top five, all at 14-1. Giovanni Battista Re
of Italy stood alone at 16-1, while three others �
Dario Castrillon Hoyos of Colombia, and Crescenzio
Sepe and Giacomo Biffi, both of Italy � merited 18-1.