Pope Benedict’s elder brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger has given insight into why the coveted position of Catholic Pontiff may elude Africa as the Church begins the process of appointing a new pope. Much speculation has focused on whether Benedict’s successor might come from Africa or Latin America, rather than Europe, where Roman Catholic congregations are shrinking.
The pope’s brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, speaking in Regensburg, Germany, said he expected to see a pope chosen from outside Europe one day but not just yet. “I’m certain a pope will come from the new continents but whether it will be now, I have my doubts,” he said. “In Europe, we have many very able people, and the Africans are still not so well known and maybe do not have the experience yet.”
Among those considered frontrunners for the role are Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan; Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who heads the Vatican’s office of bishops; Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, an Argentinian, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana and Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria. Whoever gets the nod, the selection of a new pontiff is expected to go smoothly. “We’re not going to have a problem of two competing popes. If Pope Benedict still wanted to have influence, he wouldn’t have stepped down,” said senior Vatican communications adviser Greg Burke. While not quite unprecedented, Benedict’s resignation is certainly historic.
The last pope to step down before his death was Gregory XII, who in 1415 quit to end a civil war within the church in which more than one man claimed to be pope.