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Think Tank

Will the Next Pope Be Black?

Some time in March a puff of white smoke will rise over St. Peter's Square. Will it signal a black Pope from Africa?

After the surprising resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, there is speculation that Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson is an early favorite. Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze is another potential contender. 

The Catholic Church today is not your grandfather's Catholic Church. That's not just because of Vatican II. The selection of a black Pope would represent the rapidly changing demographics of the Church. There are over 135 million Catholics in Africa, making it the second fastest-growing region for Catholicism after Asia

A Pope from Africa would also be of particular significance in regard to efforts to modernize Church doctrine on contraception and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Turkson has made his belief known that he does not see condoms as the solution to Africa's AIDS crisis, but he has also suggested some flexibility when it comes to married couples. 

In the video below, James Martin, a Jesuit priest, says the Catholic Church will be "a different color" in 40 years. Not only may we have a black Pope, Martin also says there will likely be female priests.

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan

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