Could a progressive black Cardinal signal the Vatican’s Obama moment?

Could the next Pope be a black progressive? Left Foot Forward looks at the favourites to take over from Pope Benedict XVI.

With the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Left Foot Forward looks at who might to take over as the Pontifex Maximus. Odds courtesy of Paddy Power.

The favourite

Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana – Odds: 9/4

Yes, the next Pope could be black. Turkson, 63, lays a heavy emphasis on global justice, and was the top signatory on the document blasting ‘neo-liberal’ ideologies and calling for a ‘true world political authority’ to regulate the world economy.

Turkson’s predecessor as Archbishop of Cape Coast in Ghana, John Kodwo Amissah, became the first indigenous African archbishop in modern times in 1957.

Socially, however, Cardinal Turkson has shown the same worrying tendency as his predecessor to disparage the use of condoms in Aids-ridden Africa, saying in 2009 that condoms ‘facilitate the spread of HIV AIDS’.

In the running

Cardinal Francis ArizneCardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria – Odds: 3/1

Francis Arinze is known as a theological conservative, something common to Catholics from the southern hemisphere.

He said of gay men with ponytails and earrings that he would like to ‘wash their heads with holy water’.

Many Catholics would like the next Pope to come from the developing world as this is where the faithful are growing fastest.

Cardinal Marc OuelletCardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops (Canada) – Odds: 5/2

Ouellet, 68, served as archbishop of Quebec from 2002 to 2010 before taking over as head of the powerful Vatican office that oversees the appointment of the world’s bishops.

Socially conservative, Ouellet has suggested that abortion can never be justified, even in cases where a woman has been raped, calling it a ‘moral crime as serious as murder’.

Archbishop Angelo ScolaArchbishop Angelo Scola of Venice – Odds: 7/1

A major supporter of the New Evangelization and a leader in Catholic-Islamic dialogue, Scola is another favourite among the conservative wing of the church.

He helped draft encyclicals in which previous Pope John Paul II restated his strong defence of traditional Catholic teaching on moral issues such as condoms.

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez MaradiagaCardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras – Odds: 10/1

Cardinal Maradiaga is widely considered to be on the progressive wing of the church, campaigning on issues such as debt relief for poor countries and acting in the past as an intermediary between the Honduran military government and democratic reformers.

He played a big part in presenting a petition to the G8 summit in 1999 demanding debt relief for the world’s poorest countries and he regularly speaks out on social issues.

Probably the most progressive of the contenders for the top job but something of a long shot.

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