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Rome & the World: African pope or Asian one? • newly discovered frescoes question Mexico’s conversion process

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Malcolm Ranjith

I.Media - published on 10/10/22

Every day, Aleteia offers a selection of articles written by the international press about the Church and the major issues that concern Catholics around the world. The opinions and views expressed in these articles are not those of the editors.

Monday 10 October 2022
1. While an African pope is possible, an Asian may be a better bet
2. How Mexico was converted to Catholicism
3. When the Pope calls a parish priest in Naples
4. Investigation opened against the president of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference
5. Pope Francis to go to DRC in early 2023

1While an African Pope is possible, an Asian may be a better bet

Vatican expert John Allen looks at the personalities that could emerge in a future conclave. The journalist, who has been scrutinizing Vatican news for decades, is particularly interested in African and Asian candidates. On the subject of Africa, he notes that a Black pope would in theory be a good option. It would be a demonstration of the Church’s solidarity with this developing continent, a powerful statement against racism, and a recognition of the vitality of Catholicism in that part of the world. However, Allen explains that the problem is that there are no really strong candidates. Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana retired last year from his strategic position as prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and so his moment seems to have passed. As for Cardinal Robert Sarah from Guinea, his conservative profile will probably not allow him to obtain a two-thirds majority, especially since he is also a former prefect of a Dicastery.

In the absence of African candidates, many of whom are not well known enough yet, John Allen focuses on Asia, where there are more “papabile” profiles. There is, of course, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, currently in charge of the Dicastery for Evangelization. At 65 years old, he is seen as dynamic and popular, and offers continuity with the pontificate of Francis. However, some see him as having too much of a ““nice guy” persona” to take on the overwhelming office of Bishop of Rome. Other names are circulating, such as Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Sri Lanka. He has extensive Vatican experience, having served in the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and as secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship. He is also fluent in Italian, an asset that is still indispensable for administering the Curia. In Allen’s opinion, Cardinal Ranjith would be a solid candidate among the more conservative cardinals. “In Rome he was known as the ‘little Ratzinger,’” the journalist explains. Other names include Cardinal Charles Bo of Myanmar, who will soon be 74 years old, and Cardinal Lazzaro You Heung-sik of South Korea, currently head of the Dicastery for the Clergy, and considered a rising profile. 

Angelus News, English

2How Mexico was converted to Catholicism

An amazing discovery was made in a 1550s convent on the outskirts of Mexico City: indigenous and Catholic symbols painted side by side. A feathered headdress, an ax and a shield, appear on a fresco next to a Marian “M.” This coexistence could be a sign that the indigenous populations “negotiated” their conversion to Christianity, says the American news agency AP. This inculturation would have occurred after the victory of the Spanish armies against the Aztec empire in 1521. The theory most often defended is that Catholicism had been imposed by force, but this fresco indicates that the adoption of the religion could have gone through negotiations and compromises. Indeed, the symbols found in the crypt could refer to an Aztec god, potentially Tepoztecatl. The hypothesis defended by researchers from the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico has the merit of shedding light on the conversion of millions of Indigenous Mexicans at a time when Spanish Catholic priests were in very small numbers. The discovery of the monastery is also interesting in that it tells the story of the early days of evangelization from another angle. It raises questions about the functioning of the “open-air chapels” – or “posing chapels” – where the frescoes were found. These structures were small arched vestibules built around a patio where priests celebrated open-air masses for the indigenous populations, who were accustomed to holding religious ceremonies in open spaces. The open-air chapels may have been a reflection simply of the priests’ desire to work as quickly as possible at converting the native population, explained a member of the research team, countering the generally held idea that indigenous populations were afraid of closed spaces. These open-air religious spaces were also easier to build, the researchers believe, and showed “an urgent need to start using the space” as churches were being built.

AP, English

3. When the Pope calls a parish priest in Naples

“Hello, I am Francesco.” Pope Francis unexpectedly called Father Patriciello, parish priest of Caivano near Naples, involved in the fight against the mafia. 

L’Avvenire, Italian 

4. Investigation opened against the president of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference 

Bishop José Ornelas, president of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference, is being investigated in at least two cases, opened by the Portuguese Public Prosecutor’s Office, for allegedly covering up sexual abuse committed within the Catholic Church. 

Publico, Spanish

5. Pope Francis to come to DRC in early 2023 

Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, archbishop of Kinshasa, confirmed during a Mass that Pope Francis will come to visit his country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, in early 2023.  

Media Congo, French

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