Pope Obama I? Well, sort of…

Wilton Gregory.jpg Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory suggests that Obama’s victory is a foretaste of what will happen in the Catholic Church–once we get around to electing an African as pope. As Richard Owens reports from Rome…

Archbishop Gregory, who in 2001 became the first African American to head the US Bishops Conference, serving for three years, said that the election of Mr Obama was “a great step forward for humanity and a sign that in the United States the problem of racial discrimination has been overcome”. Like Mr Obama Archbishop Gregory comes from Chicago, and was previously Bishop of Belleville, Illinois.
He said that recent Popes, beginning with John XXIII and Paul VI, had brought prelates “from all nations and races” to Rome to take up senior positions in the Curia, the Vatican hierarchy. This offered “an international vision of a Church rich in diversity”, he told the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
Archbishop Gregory said that the next time cardinals gathered to elect a Pope they could “in their wisdom” choose an African pontiff. “My own election as head of the US Bishops Conference was an important signal. In 2001 the American bishops elected someone they respected regardless of his race, and the same thing could happen with the election of a Pope.”


Barack Obama.jpg I’d also note that within two months of his election as head of the USCCB, then-Bishop Gregory was hit with the sex abuse tsunami. His response to the crisis was (geenrally) considered agile and bold, and his racial breakthrough was soon forgotten. Perhaps Obama will enjoy a similar fate.
In any case, rumors are intensifying that Archbishop Gregory is on the short-list to replace Cardinal Egan in New York. At this point, the American church could use that more than an African pope…

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posted November 10, 2008 at 11:40 am

Great comment, Bishop Gregory. What a difference from some bishops who
cautioned us that we would be committing mortal sin to vote for Obama.
You are the kind of Christian leader we need for the future not those who preach doom and fear. God bless you

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posted November 10, 2008 at 8:06 pm

A Black Pope? Look how long it took them to elect a non-Italian Pope. It is a great comment though of how much more the Theological World has to grow in acceptance, no matter what they preach.
I will say it is more likely for the School of Cardinals to elect a Black Pope than it would be for the LDS to elect a Black Bishop. I remember when the RCC canonized its first Black Saint.

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Wonders for Oyarsa

posted November 10, 2008 at 9:12 pm

Wow – you remember the canonization of St. Moses the Black? You must be pretty old!

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Little Bear

posted November 10, 2008 at 10:33 pm

Actually, Scuffy might remember the canonization of St. Martin de Porres, who like President Obama, was bi-racial. Martin’s mother was
a black woman and his father was a Spanish nobleman in Lima, Peru.
And of course, there is St. Charles Lwanga of Uganda. So Scuffy might not be so old, after all. Right Scuffy?

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posted November 11, 2008 at 12:02 am

I don’t see racial discrimination ever being overcome until we all become Americans. And as for preaching doom and gloom the reality is there is still sin in the world no matter how you try to cover it up.Sin is still sin even if the Roman Catholic Church chooses not to talk about or a law makes it OK.

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posted November 11, 2008 at 9:02 am

It looks as though the Bishop is suggesting that the Church is racist when electing Popes. I guess history is not his strong point as the Church has already had many black Popes.The Church is not racist and it is , as always, the Holy Spirit that chooses the Pope through the inspiration received by the Cardinals. Why should I not be insulted by these comments as a Catholi? Obviously such comments have no basis in fact.
In Christ
Fr. Joe

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Jimmy Mac

posted November 11, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Well, Fr. Joe, you are welcome to believe this little fairy tale about the Holy Spirit choosing a pope via inspiring cardinals if you wish. Don’t expect the rest of us to, though.
If that is true, the HS either has a bad sense of humor or isn’t very bright. If you look at the history of the papacy you will find many scumbags that got the job via many nefarious ways.
Wake up and accept the political reality of papal selection. Leave the fairy tales to the children in parochial schools.

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Nancy Danielson

posted November 13, 2008 at 10:33 am

Jimmy Mac, the Holy Spirit is Real, not a Fairy Tale. We Believe, that is all.(everything)

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posted November 18, 2008 at 5:25 am

For a link to the full text of Archbishop Gregory’s comments in La Stampa, as well as a list of previous African pontiffs, see the November 7 coverage at (“Archbishop Gregory: Obama’s Election ‘A Great Step for Humanity'”).

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posted December 1, 2008 at 12:46 am

Is the archbishop saying that maybe, one day, after we have evolved enough, we will have a pro-abortion/gay marriage pope too? Wow! We will have come a long way , baby!

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Patrick Flynn

posted December 11, 2008 at 9:34 am

We all remember that Cardinal Arinze had a chance to possibly become our next Pope a few years back. Nobody cares about the skin color of our supreme shepherd on earth. We do care and insist that he be a true man of God and the Church.
Likewise, the color of Obama’s skin is completely irrelevent. The trouble is that he is a pro-child killing, anti-family socialist.
Archbishop Gregory seems to think that simple affirmative action, which is racism, will bring the human family together. The very notion is ridiculous. I believe that he is an example of what is wrong with our church leadership in this age.

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posted July 10, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Skin color is not an issue. Orthodoxy and adherence to God’s Divine Revelation is. Hopefully the weepy and emotional Archbishop Gregory will never be elected Pope – but, gee…I don’t want him to cry if he doesn’t win.

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