There is some discussion in religious circles that the next pope might be from Ghana.
Is the Roman Catholic Church world ready for the first non-European pope? "The public seems enamored of the idea of a non-European pope, and even many cardinals - whose votes are the only ones that count - are openly pushing the idea of a "pope of color" to follow Benedict XVI, a German theologian," added The Staten Island Advance.
"I think in a way the church is always and has forever been ready for a non-European pope," Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana told reporters after Benedict announced that he was resigning at the end of February, added The Advance.
"The appeal of a non-European pope is understandable as it seems to reflect the hope that the church at the top of the pyramid would finally reflect the demographic reality of the faith on the ground, since the growing majority of Catholics live in the Southern Hemisphere," added the media report.
Can the church embrace change?
"Picking a pope from the Global South would also show that the church can embrace change - not necessarily by altering a particular doctrine but by changing the way it expresses and embodies the faith," added The Advance. "In that sense, a pope from the developing world would be a symbol with real substance, much the way people saw Polish-born John Paul II in 1978, the first non-Italian pontiff in centuries and one who came from behind the Iron Curtain."
Can the church overcome racial bias?
"Simply put, the College of Cardinals is gerrymandered to favor an Old World candidate. It's set up like the U.S. Senate so that archdioceses with few practicing Catholics - like many in Europe - always have a cardinal and as much electoral weight as entire nations that have far more Mass-going Catholics but perhaps a single cardinal, if that," added the media report.
"Latin America, for example, is home to 42 percent of the world's Catholics, yet it claims just 16 percent of the College of Cardinals (19 out of 117 electors). Europe, meanwhile, has 24 percent of the world's Catholics (and a much lower rate of practice) but claims a full 53 percent of all the cardinals," according to The Advance.
"Similarly, Africa has 16 percent of the world's Catholics - and growing - and just 9 percent of the cardinals," added the newspaper. "Even U.S. and Canadian Catholics are overrepresented: 8 percent of all Catholics reside in North America but they account for 12 percent of the cardinals."
"The imbalance derives in part from history: The pope is pope because he is the bishop of Rome, following St. Peter, the first bishop of Rome, who tradition says was martyred there," added The Advance. "In the early centuries of Christianity, the bishop of Rome was elected by the people and priests of the city. Later, the election was held by cardinals, who are given honorary posts in the Diocese of Rome or serve in the Vatican bureaucracy."
"There's the language barrier, for example. Italian is the lingua franca of the Vatican, and the Italians - and especially the members of the Roman Curia, who can be from other countries - all speak Italian while cardinals coming from other regions generally do not," added the report. "The Vatican is hard enough to navigate but impossible if you can't ask for directions."
"They tried to find an alternative to Ratzinger, but they couldn't," a senior Vatican official said after the conclave. "This time, however, there are some factors that could scramble the usual calculus," according to The Advance.
As Robert Mickens, Vatican correspondent for The Tablet of London, wrote in January: "It's not clear that it would make any difference to have a pope with an African or Latin American face if he turned out to be more Roman than Caesar." Staten Island like the rest of the world awaits news of the next pope. I hope to report the happy news here.