The new pope should be African, says Tutu

Desmond Tutu has lent his voice to calls for the cardinals of the Catholic Church to select the first African pope in more than 1 500 years.

"(I hope the cardinals)... will follow the first non-Italian pope by electing the first African pope (since Gelasius 1)," the Anglican cleric, who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his anti-apartheid activities, said outside his home in Cape Town on Sunday.

John Paul was elected in 1978 as the first non-Italian pope in 455 years.

There have been calls by some in Africa for the next pope to come from the developing world, where the church has its largest following.

One possible candidate is Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria.

Tutu also hailed the late pope for his efforts to champion the cause of peace and to unite humanity.

"We know that he was a champion for world peace. And more than any other pope he went around the world galvanising the faithful who turned out in droves to meet him."

"We also want to pay tribute to him for his concern for the unity of humankind. He was the first pope, I think, to gather together... leaders of other Christian denominations, calling them to prayer for the world," Tutu said. - Sapa.

sign up