The All Africa Conference of Churches has expressed its condolences to Catholics around the world. It says Pope John Paul the Second reached out to Protestant and Orthodox leaders with a sense of openness – and it praised him for meeting with the Jewish and Muslim communities.
Rev. Arnold Temple of Sierra Leone is a Methodist minister and the conference’s executive secretary for ecumenical relations. From Nairobi, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about relations between Catholics and other Christian denominations under the late pontiff.
Rev. Temple says, “There were mutual feelings on the question of social justice. From time to time, statements were made by the Vatican, but also these statements were echoed in other statements made by Protestant churches on the continent of Africa. So, in other words, there were feelings, mutual feelings, on issues that confront Africa. Though there are differences as well. I mean naturally there must be differences because we are not tied to following each other’s opinion.” Rev. Temple says one area where various denomination work together is HIV/AIDS.
What if the next Pope were a black African? Nigerian Cardinal Arinze is among those observers think could be in the running to become the next pope. Rev. Temple says, “If that happens, we will rejoice of it. We usually talk of this century being the century of the Africans…but I believe that the call to leadership in the church is within God’s prerogative. So, if He calls the pope from wherever part of the world and whatever race, it’s within God’s prerogative to do that. And we only pray that we would have a pope that would be friendly to Africa. If that pope is an African we will definitely be happy.”