News / Africa

    South Africa Reacts With Surprise as Pope Resigns

    Pope Benedict the 16th waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica after being newly elected, the Vatican, April 19, 2005.Pope Benedict the 16th waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica after being newly elected, the Vatican, April 19, 2005.
    x
    Pope Benedict the 16th waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica after being newly elected, the Vatican, April 19, 2005.
    Pope Benedict the 16th waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica after being newly elected, the Vatican, April 19, 2005.
    Anita Powell
    A senior Catholic Church leader in South Africa says the resignation of Pope Benedict came as a surprise, but that he will be well remembered for his work. Could Benedict’s departure signal the coming of an African pope? On that decision, Archbishop William Slattery said he defers to a higher power.

    News of the pope’s resignation caught most people off guard in southern Africa, where the Catholic Church claims a healthy following and is active in a range of social and charitable programs.

    Benedict is the first pope to resign in six centuries. He cited his advanced age - he’s 85 years old - as the main factor.

    Pope Benedict Bio

    • Became one of the oldest new popes when elected in 2005 at age of 78
    • Headed Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before becoming pope
    • Named Cardinal of Munich in 1977
    • Taught at several universities from 1959 to 1966
    • Joined the Hitler Youth in 1941 when it became compulsory for all German boys
    • Born Joseph Ratzinger in 1927 in Bavaria's Marktl am Inn, son of a police officer
    In South Africa, Archbishop William Slattery, the archbishop of Pretoria, said the news took him by surprise. He said the continent’s 170 million Catholics will remember the pope fondly.

    "So we have a great sense of gratitude, because he was an excellent teacher and preacher.  He was a totally committed and simple person, even though he was highly intelligent. And he will be remembered from a long time, with gratitude. And the Catholics of Africa in general, there are 170 million Catholics in general, we have great respect for the pope and we understand the reasons he gave for moving on,” said Slattery.

    Pope Frontrunners for Now
    (Source: Reuters)

    While there are no official candidates, here are the "papabili,'' potential popes, most frequently mentioned recently. The list is in alphabetical order.

    • Joao Braz de Aviz (Brazil, 65) brought fresh air to the  Vatican department for religious congregations when he took over in 2011. He supports the preference for the poor in Latin America's liberation theology, but not the excesses of its advocates.
    • Timothy Dolan, (USA, 62) became the voice of U.S. Catholicism after being named archbishop of New York in 2009. His humour and dynamism have impressed the Vatican, where both are often missing.
    • Marc Ouellet (Canada, 68) is effectively the Vatican's top staff director as head of the Congregation for Bishops. He once said becoming pope "would be a nightmare.''
    • Gianfranco Ravasi (Italy, 70) has been Vatican culture  minister since 2007 and represents the Church to the worlds of art, science, culture and even to atheists.
    • Leonardo Sandri (Argentina, 69) is a "transatlantic'' figure born in Buenos Aires to Italian parents. He held the third-highest Vatican post as its chief of staff in 2000-2007.
    • Odilo Pedro Scherer (Brazilia, 63) ranks as Latin America's strongest candidate. He's Archbishop of Sao Paolo, largest diocese in the largest Catholic country.
    • Christoph Schoenborn (Austria, 67) is a former student of Pope Benedict with a pastoral touch the pontiff lacks. The Vienna archbishop has ranked as papal material since editing the Church catechism in the 1990s.
    • Angelo Scola (Italy, 71) is archbishop of Milan, a springboard to the papacy, and is many Italians' bet to win. An expert on bioethics, he also knows Islam as head of a foundation to promote Muslim-Christian understanding.
    • Luis Tagle (Philippines, 55) has a charisma often compared to that of the late Pope John Paul. He is also close to Pope Benedict after working with him at the International Theological Commission.
    • Peter Turkson (Ghana, 64) is the top African candidate. Head of the Vatican justice and peace bureau, he is spokesman for the Church's social conscience and backs world financial reform.
    Eighteen of the 120 cardinals who will choose the next pope are African, and the archbishop said they will have a chance to put forward the candidate they want. He said that South America, which has an estimated 400 million Catholics, also might put up a candidate, as could Asia, where the Catholic Church is enjoying fast growth.

    “Everything is open, we’ll just pray and ask for the guidance of God’s spirit," said Slattery. "The election of an African to the task would be a great joy to Africa, and also he would bring the gifts of Africa - the gifts of a deep faith, the gifts of a people who are responding to crisis very very generously at the moment. And so we just have to see and pray that the right decision will be made.”

    World Catholic population, 2012.World Catholic population, 2012.
    x
    World Catholic population, 2012.
    World Catholic population, 2012.
    Slattery praised Pope Benedict for visiting Africa several times and paying attention to the continent’s faithful and needy.

    “Remember that in South Africa, where I am, 27 percent of the care of people suffering from AIDS is carried on by the Catholic Church. And this area Benedict spoke a lot to encourage us, and to enable us to respond to the needs of our people here in South Africa, and all over Africa, the same," he said. "Everywhere you go in Africa, every single country, you’ll find hospitals and clinics, education, the like... offered by the Catholic Church to the people of Africa, and Benedict would have been behind that.”

    Benedict chose Angola for his first visit to Africa in 2009. The coastal nation is 60 percent Catholic, but that dominance is being threatened by the growth of evangelical churches.  One million faithful came to see the pontiff in Angola, the largest turnout of his tour.

    South Africa's Christians are predominantly Protestant, but about seven percent of South Africans are Catholic. In neighboring Mozambique, about 28 percent of the population is Catholic.

    • Pope Benedict greets the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, April 19, 2005.
    • Pope Benedict blesses a baby as he rides around St. Peter's Square to hold his last general audience at the Vatican Feb. 27, 2013.
    • Pope Benedict appears on a giant screen in a packed St. Peter's Square at the Vatican during his last general audience, February 27, 2013.
    • Pope Benedict arrives to attend a meeting with seminarians at the Romano Maggiore seminary in Rome, February 8, 2013.
    • Pope Benedict waves as he arrives to lead the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, April 18, 2012.
    • Pope Benedict wears a sombrero, a traditional Mexican hat, while being driven through the crowd before officiating a mass in Silao, Mexico, March 25, 2012.
    • Pope Benedict holds his cross as he leads a solemn mass in Zagreb, Croatia, June 5, 2011.
    • Pope Benedict visits the Ardeatine Caves Memorial in Rome, Italy, March 27, 2011.
    • Pope Benedict leaves after an audience with Vatican-accredited diplomats at the Vatican, January 10, 2011.
    • Pope Benedict visits the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City, May 12, 2009.
    • Pope Benedict waves to the crowd gathered in Saint Peter's square during his weekly Angelus blessing at the Vatican, May 16, 2010.
    • U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama meet with Pope Benedict at the Vatican, July 10, 2009.

    You May Like

    Greenpeace Leak: US-EU Trade Deal Would Favor Corporations

    Activist group leaks classified documents to 'shine a light' on talks that could create the world's largest bilateral trade and investment pact

    Video Ethiopia's Drought Takes Toll on Children

    East African country’s crops failed in 2015, creating food shortages for 10 million – including 6 million children whose development may be compromised

    What Your First Name Reveals About Who You Vote For

    People named Chad are more likely to be Republicans and Jonathans are usually Democrats

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora