Africa is the continent where Catholicism is strongest, unlike Europe, where people are becoming more secular–even in Italy, home of the Vatican. The exiting Pope Benedict will have a lot of influence on who will be chosen to succeed him.
In the February 16th edition of the Observer, John Hooper writes that Benedict "has created a smaller, but more homogenous, church. Millions of the laity in Europe have drifted away in despair at the gap between their lives and the Catholicism preached by the Vatican." (Despite this, spirituality is a stronger force than ever–NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show). But Catholicism is still a strong force in Africa.
While a Black Pope would be a radical change, it might also bring on an even BIGGER change: an end to priestly celibacy. In most of Africa, Christianity is warring with Islam, and it’s obvious to everyone that most priests either have unmarried relationships with their female "housekeeper" or are gay. In one of his earliest moves, pope Benedict barred sexually active homosexual men from studying for the priesthood. Yet, three years ago, using hidden cameras, an Italian newspaper captured priests in Rome visiting gay clubs and bars and having sex.
Hooper quotes Sharon Ferguson, of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, as saying, "A lot of gay young men brought up in Catholic households see the priesthood as a potential answer to the question: ‘Why aren’t you married yet?’" In other words, it’s a refuge–but one that puts them at odds with local Muslims–especially when it comes to fears of priest pederasty.
Hooper writes: "Time and again, bishops on visits to Rome have stressed that, in many African cultures, a man without a woman beyond a certain age incites suspicion and lacks authority.
"That puts a Catholic priest at a notable disadvantage to the local imam in many of the areas where Christianity is competing with Islam for ascendancy. And since that is one of the most important challenges facing the church, a black pope could put an end to priestly celibacy."
Did you know there are Bible discussions on this website? In Whitley’s Room, just for subscribers, there are now several short (15 min.) discussions by Whitley Strieber on bible verses. The first covers the meaning of the phrase "because man goeth to his long home" in Ecclesiastes 12:5. It explains this enigmatic phrase in a startling and deeply moving way.
The second in the series covers John 13: 34: "Love one another." When Whitley begins talking about what the imposition of doctrine did at the Council of Nicea, this quickly becomes one of the most powerful discussions on any biblical passage you are going to hear. These brief fifteen minutes have the potential to free us from thousands of years of unacknowledged bondage to doctrine, and bring vivid new life to the experience of Jesus.
The third is on the opening lines of Genesis (you’ve never heard an interpretation like THIS before)! In another, Whitley Strieber talks about how the Romans saw Jesus, and uses the gospels and his deep knowledge of Roman history to explain what Jesus meant to them and why they executed him, and why they did it in the precise way that they did.
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