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Last Updated: Friday, 1 April, 2005, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
What is the Pope's legacy to Africa?
Pope John Paul II
The Pope visited more than 10 African countries

Millions of Catholics across Africa are mourning the death of Pope John Paul II.

The spiritual leader of the world's Roman Catholic church, died on Saturday at the Vatican, following a series of worsening health problems including heart failure.

During his papacy, the pontiff visited more than 10 countries in Africa where the number of Catholics has nearly doubled to over 100 million in the last two decades.

BBC Africa Live! would like to share your experience if you met the Pope or if he ever visited your country. How did that affect your life?

Since his appointment in 1978, Pope John Paul was a voice for traditional morality in the world. He had conservative views on abortion, sex before marriage and contraception.

He was also outspoken in his criticism of the war in Iraq. What legacy do you think he will leave to the world?

Following the pope's death, speculation has heightened that he could be succeeded by an African - the first in more than 1,500 years.

What do you think: Can an African be elected to head the papacy? What would this mean to you, Africa and the world?

What challenges would an African face as the head of the Catholic church?

Join the BBC Africa Live debate on Wednesday 6 April at 1630 GMT & 1830 GMT.

Use the form to send us your comments - some of which will be published below.

If you would like to take part in the discussion, e-mail us with your telephone number, which will not be published.


Read a section of your comments below:

Had the Pope blessed condoms and family planning programs instead of preaching a rigid and damaging dogma, he certainly could have saved many more souls.
Olivier, USA

For all the praises and good words that one hears about the Pope's legacy, one should not forget the millions of HIV victims, most of them Africans. Had the Pope blessed condoms and family planning programs instead of preaching a rigid and damaging dogma, he certainly could have saved many more souls. Wasn't that his job?
Olivier, USA

Catholicism has moved away from Europe and has gone to Africa. It would be worthy to elect an African to be the new Pope as a reward and encouragement for their great zeal for Catholicism. It would be a wise political decision to let a black man be the new pope to prove to the world that we are all from the same GOD.
John Ibekwe, USA

I remember vividly the visit of Pope John Paul II to Kampala, Uganda in the early 90s. I was part of my college delegation to the national ceremony. He created additional three Catholic archdioceses in Uganda and has worked for peace in northern Uganda. Africa has missed a voice of hope, a strong ally and defender of peace, justice, human rights and development on the continent.
Onzivu, Uganda/Switzerland

We will remember the Pope for his love and care for his fellow human beings. He loved justice.
Iheme, Nigeria

Surely, a Saint has passed away. He helped bring democracy in Nigeria. He urged former dictator, Sani Abacha to release some prisoners like the present head of state, Olusegun Obasanjo. We will remember the Pope for his love and care for his fellow human beings. He loved justice. He was an embodiment of peace between Christians and non Christians.
Iheme, Nigeria

He was not just a Pope. He was a true apostle of Jesus who really did what God appointed him to do. He was faithful out spoken, fearless, forgiving and loving father. I pray that God will appoint a Pope who will have similar qualities.
Samuel Siro, Sudan

The Holy Father stood for the truth and fought for the poor and hungry. His Papacy was for the the shepherd to go out and take care of his sheep and for for the sheep to come to him. He leaves behind a legacy that will be remembered around the world.
Jaiventume Fedinand, Cameroon/USA

Pope John Paul II was truly a great man of God. His campaign for the poor, socially marginalised, victims of political oppression are beyond normal human endeavour. A great pillar of Christianity that we all ought to build on. He has gone home where he belongs.
Alfred Okot Okidi, Uganda

Why did he go ahead to protect and even call for the release of the Catholic bishops and fathers who were directly involved in the genocide?
Thomas Nyambane, Nairobi, Kenya

The Pope was a man of double standards. He failed to apologise to Rwandese, Africans and humanity in general for the role played by the Catholic church in the Rwanda genocide. Why did he go ahead to protect and even call for the release of the Catholic bishops and fathers who were directly involved in the genocide? We all know of the fathers and bishops of the Catholic church who lured Tutsis and moderate Hutus to be killed in churches. Is the leadership of the Catholic church hiding and covering us from the truth of its behind the curtains world in the name of christianity?
Thomas Nyambane, Nairobi, Kenya

The Pope was probably a disaster for Africa. His views on women and his absolute reactionary attitude towards condoms has not helped stem HIV/AIDS on the continent. The Pope presumably knows nothing about sex how can he then tell the youth not to indulge in something so natural? To me it's 26 years of opportunity lost. Good luck to the next pope.
Anthony (former Catholic), Norway

Whether from Africa or not, God will give the new Pope wisdom to guide his flock on earth.
Kaliboi Sidi, Nigeria

The competence of the Pope is not in his hands or from any region, but in the hands of God. After all, no one knew there was going to be one from Poland. Pope John Paul II performed credibly well and touched the lives of people from all works of life. Whether from Africa or not, God will give the new Pope wisdom to guide his flock on earth.
Kaliboi Sidi, Nigeria

In a continent with a serious AIDS problem which continues to escalate, the Pope's position on contraception was nothing short of irresponsible. Hopefully the new Pope will balance the teachings of the Catholic church with the realities of the 21st century life.
Jane, UK

The Pope paid a somewhat troubled visit to my predominantly Christian Kingdom, and changed the destiny of Lesotho in the process. Many people had lost faith in the teachings of the church, but the Papal's visit changed our nation to the better. I personally had the pleasure of meeting the Pope and I must say, even though I am not a deeply religious person, meeting the Pope in person has so far remained the highlight of my life. As for an African leading the Catholic church, I'm all for it. Africans have devoted their lives to Christianity and I think it is time we were recognised for our efforts.
Mo Moluoane, Lesotho

Even for a country with the dubious distinction as the most corrupt in Africa, Cameroon, that still was not deterrent enough to keep him away. For that fleeting moment he spent in Cameroon, the people for once put their corrupt practices on hold and came out in throngs to see him. Now, he is gone. No one knows if another pope will ever come calling. But then again, may be the next pope could be a Cameroonian.
Che Sunday, Cameroon

I'm in Poland now, most Poles don't accept the idea of a black Pope.
Mhina Francis, Poland

I remember him when visited Tanzania in1990. Then, I was 16 years old. Pope John Paul II was a great man of the century. I'm in Poland now, most Poles don't accept the idea of a black Pope. There are those who say if a black Pope is elected, they will leave the church.
Mhina Francis, Poland

I met our Pope in 1988 when he visited Zimbabwe and celebrated mass with us. People are already speaking about his successor and how the world is not ready for a pontiff from Africa. As Catholics world wide let us pray earnestly for a new leader. Let us also recall that our pope is a descendant of St Peter. Our late Pope would not have wanted us to be divided because of colour or tribe.
Tsitsi Ndiweni, Zimbabwe

When the history of the Catholic church is written for the 20th century, it will be Pope John Paul II that will be credited for allowing traditions of the faithful to be practiced in the church. As many Catholics know, we started to hear the beautiful sounds of our traditional drums, samba and many others during Mass. This reduced the barrier between the faithful and the traditional people, and brought the Catholic Church closer every community ever before.
Kehleboe Gongloe, Liberian in the US

I have the greatest regard for the pope and his loss I shall feel deeply; yet, I shall not forget his stance on the use of contraceptives and the effect it may have had on the African AIDS rate.
Yorick, Surrey, UK

The Pope loved all men, rich or poor; white or black; Jew or non Jew.
George K. Freeman, Liberian in USA

Pope John Paul II was a Teacher of Teachers. He taught by both words and deeds. He was against abortion and against war unlike other world leaders who say they are against abortion but they create and promote war. The Pope loved all men, rich or poor; white or black; jew or gentile. As for electing an African Pope, I am not sure the Roman Catholic world is yet ready for that spiritual realism.
George K. Freeman, Liberian in Baltimore, USA

I felt like I lost a close friend of mine! Because the Pope believed in youths to be the future of a church and a nation.
Tigistu, Ethiopian in Canada

I can't even remember what age I was when the Pope visited Malawi. But there was a lot of excitement with his coming. After his visit the Catholic bishops in Malawi wrote a pastoral letter that signified the end of of a one party rule and opened up to a multiparty democracy.He will truly be remembered fondly by many.
Wezi Phiri, UK

He was a great man. He will be truly missed. Rest in peace Papa John Paul II.
Rhodah Mashavave, Zimbabwe

I have always admired the Pope. It's so sad that he has died. I remember when he came to Zimbabwe in 1988. Then I was only seven years old. I felt at peace just seeing him from a distance. He was a great man. He will be truly missed. Rest in peace Papa John Paul II.
Rhodah Mashavave, Zimbabwe

Pope John Paul was a true apostle. He preached the gospel worldwide and united more people and religions. Though I am not a Roman Catholic, I found the Pope's speeches universal and less indoctrinated. The whole world weeps as the most popular and religious icon waves bye.
Kingsley Igwenazor, Nigeria

The Lord Has given, The Lord has taken, blessed be His Name. Farewell John Paul II.
Josiah Zubairu, USA

The Pope unlike previous ones dedicated his energy to seeing that justice, peace and stability existed in Africa. His advice to despots like Nigeria's Sani Abacha would not be forgotten. We will miss a man who truly had Africa at heart. The Lord Has given, The Lord has taken, blessed be His Name. Farewell John Paul II.
Josiah Zubairu, USA

The Pope has been good to Africa and I dare say Nigeria in particular. He visited Nigeria twice: First in 1982, when he came to my home city, Kaduna - a cosmopolitan, yet predominantly Muslim city and the Pope clearly took Nigerians of every religion as his own. The second time he visited Nigeria, in 1998, he met with the then dictator Sani Abacha and publicly confronted that authoritarian regime requesting the release of political prisoners. That was Pope John Paul II - the consummate clergy and diplomat in a time that the world needed it. Perhaps his most lasting legacy to Nigeria is the appointment of two Nigerians to the College of Cardinals and over 10 other Africans. God bless you Papa.
Simdul Shagaya, Nigeria/South Africa

The Pope will always be remembered as a crusader for the respect of human life and hope for the suffering. In Kenya he helped to stop the demolition of houses belonging to slum dwellers. He also initiated the Synod of Africa.
Joseph Sunkuli, Australia

The Pope visited Malawi during the late Kamuzu Banda's reign. The place he held his mass has turned into a FREEDOM PARK.
Jobbs Atu, Malawi

I am Presbyterian but I have very high respect to the pontiff. The Pope visited Malawi during the late Kamuzu Banda's reign. The place he held his mass has turned into a FREEDOM PARK, where political meetings for change in Malawi take place.
Jobbs Atu, Malawi

In 1990, the Pope came to Zambia aboard an Air France Concorde. I'll remember him for that! Most importantly though, he kissed our country's soil, at the time when one party politics were in full swing. The following year, multi-party elections were held. Some believe kissing our soil had something to do with it.
Evans, Zambian in UK

He came to Cameroon on a pastoral visit in 1985, and again in 1995 for the celebration of the African Synod. I reminisce when his plane landed at the Bamenda airport that is clearly visible from my parents' hilly backyard. I had to climb up a tree in an attempt to get a glimpse of him since the crowd was more than enormous, and I wasn't tall enough. His visits brought hope to desperate and marginalised Cameroonians.
Pascal Fuh, Cameroon/USA

During the first peace agreement, Pope John Paul II visited Angola. It was an extraordinary experience to see this humble servant of God praying for peace in Angola. He spoke clearly about social justice, the healing of the wounds in the aftermath of conflict and stressed the importance of a process for national reconciliation as a strong foundation for nation building. He met with evangelical churches to stress the role of all churches in reconciliation.
Fr. Jacinto Pio Wacussnga, UK

I was very fortunate to receive the Pope's Blessing of the Faithful last year in Rome. Even though he spoke in many languages that I couldn't understand, it was clearly obvious I was in the midst of a very holy MAN. As an American born and raised in Liberia, it would bring so much to Africa if the next Pope was an African; however being a Catholic we will accept whoever God authorizes to lead his church here on earth.
Tony Riggio, Maryland, USA

He gave the Ghanaian Catholic Church its first cardinal. This is very historic and will forever be remembered.
James Agyei, USA

How would the world be without the Pope? He visited our country, Kenya, in 1983 and I attended the Mass with him. He has been an encouragement to us here in Kenya. I would love to see an African Pope elected so that he can be able to address issues affecting the continent.
Kate Macharia, Kenya

I recall the Pope's visit to Tanzania in 1990. I have been following his visits to other countries whereby his arrival has marked a strength in people's belief in God. He has been against oppression and discrimination of all kinds.
Godfrey Martin Mubyazi, Tanzanian currently in Copenhagen.

I am a Muslim but I have high regard for his indiscriminate devotion in fostering peace, love and harmony around the world.
Mustapha Hydara, USA

I was born in The Gambia. I vaguely remember the Pope's visit there. I was probably about ten years old ( I'm now 34). The visit was phenomenal and one could just feel the spirit of love and harmony in the air. I am a Muslim but I have high regard for his indiscriminate devotion in fostering peace, love and harmony around the world.
Mustapha Hydara, USA

The Pope has been the father of all nations and a very impartial religious leader. It was my daughter's prayer that the Pope would be able to officiate at her wedding day.
Claudia Wray, USA

I saw the Pope for the first time on TV. I physically saw him live in August 2000 in Rome during the jubilee world youth day. My coming to Italy to see him was through an initiative from the Vatican to help African poor pilgrims to Rome. Miraculously, I was one of the pilgrims. On my return to Kenya, I got a scholarship to study in Italy and here I am going on with my Engineering degree.
Joseph Musembi, Italy Milan.

Pope John Paul visited my home country Nigeria in 1998 to beautify Cyprian Tansi, and he was well received by all. He transcended religion, continent and nations. He spoke for all regardless of background. A good man, an embodiment of compassion, the mouth of the voiceless, and the friend of the down-trodden. An African pope will mean a lot to the Christian religion and the world. An African pope will also send a signal to the world that our God is the God of all people. The Catholic Church has grown tremendously in Africa in the last two decades.
Jay, Phoenix, USA

Pope John Paul II stood firm for democracy and good governance, urging bad and undemocratic regimes in Africa, to embrace democracy.
Ndubuisi Nwokolo, Nigeria

Pope John Paul was not only a Catholic Pope, but a Pope for all Christians.
Thabor D. Ding, Sudanese/ USA

The Holy Father visited my own country Sudan and urged for Sudanese peace which was finally signed in January this year. Pope John Paul was not only a Catholic Pope, but a Pope for all Christians.
Thabor D. Ding, Sudanese/ USA

Pope John Paul II is truly a Man of God and Africa will forever cherish his constant care, prayers and support for her down trodden children. He rose above race, gender, nationality, social economic status, political ideals and gender to head the Catholic Church since 1978. His Gospel of peace and justice for all humanity is also Africa's cry for global justice, peace tolerance and honesty.
Kuria Githiora, Kenyan in the USA

Pope John Paul II reached out to many Africans including non-Catholics, which I happen to be one, through his speeches and actions. He spoke against all forms of oppression, respect for human life and human dignity, democracy and respect for human rights. That endeared many down-trodden Africans to him.
Anslem John-Miller, USA

The Pope's papacy has lasted as long as I have, to the month. I have known no other Pope. I look up to him, and so far he is one of the few I put on my list of Heroes.
Bradley, USA

I'm a Lutheran. Although not sharing the same doctrine with the Pope, his sermon against the continued deprivation of the under privileged, sex before marriage, homosexuality, despotism, religious conflict most especially between Christian and Muslim, which have been the characteristic of the Nigerian state, is one legacy that has benefited Africa. Definitely, Africans are going to miss his papacy.
Tashikalmah Hallah, Nigeria

I am pretty sad about the Pope's death. I remember very well when visited my home country Tanzania, in 1990. I saw him two days in a row. He actually gave a huge mass in my Village Kawekamo in Mwanza region. Thousands of people from all over Tanzania regions came to see him. It was incredibly a special day for all Christians in Tanzania.
Protus Mayunga, USA

I do not think there is a possibility of a non-white Pope in our lifetime, even though we constitute more than half of the Catholics in the world.
Heather Mutizwa Kazingizi, UK/Zimbabwe

The Pope visited Zimbabwe in 1989 and I was among those went to meet him at the airport. I was only 11 then and found the experience overwhelming, almost surreal. An African Pope, well that remains to be seen, Africans are not ever seen in that kind of light, as leaders. I do not think there is a possibility of a non-white Pope in our lifetime, even though we constitute more than half of the Catholics in the world today. An african Pope would not be accepted, at least not by non-Africans. That is a fact.
Heather Mutizwa Kazingizi, UK/Zimbabwe

I was fortunate to see him in person during his visit to Havana, Cuba in 1997 and it was really emotional. I think if the Lord finally calls him to heaven, an African successor would not be a bad idea as it will really help the numerous Catholics on our lovely continent to grow much stronger in faith and seek peace.
Alexander, Nigeria/Cuba

The divide between Black and White is not yet over. An African Pope would not be accepted by a greater part of the white race. A Black bishop for the church in Rome? Many would leave the church. Look at the humiliation of successful black celebrities such as footballers. The Holy Father visited most African nations including Ghana and embraced or even kissed Blacks. He is a man who showed love to all. He is a Saint. May God be with him!
Paul Agbodza, Ghanaian in Vienna

African problems of poverty and HIV/AIDS may need the timely intervention of an African Pope with the spirit of John Paul II.
Fr. Gregory Umunna, Nigerian student in Belgium

When in heaven, we know he will pray for good governance in my country.
Henry Williams, USA/Sierra Leone

Because of the war, Sierra Leone missed the presence and blessings of this great man in our recent history. We hope the next pope will honour the people of Sierra Leone with a visit. Wherever he went, changes came about. When in heaven, we know he will pray for good governance in my country. As a tolerant spiritual leader, he would have been a very welcome guest in the midst of a very religiously tolerant people, Sierra Leoneans.
Henry Williams, USA/Sierra Leone

I wonder how long it will take for the world to be privileged with another John Paul II. The fine attributes of this great world figure cut across human obstacles; be they religious, race, region, or otherwise. May Allah grant him the peace he deserves in this world and the next.
Aroun Rashid Deen, Sierra Leonean in New York, USA

The legacy of Pope John Paul II to Africa is his care and concern for the poor and marginalized voiceless majority. He ordained me as a priest 23 years ago in Nigeria along with 92 others. His charismatic, purposeful and visionary leadership for the world is well appreciated. He stood up for the truth all the time for people of all faiths and beliefs.
Rev. Fr. Martin Dama, Nigeria

To me, he is an embodiment of humility and selfless service to all Catholics and the world in general.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

I have always admired the Pope as a very principled individual whose ideas and beliefs were neither swayed by any individual nor politics. To me, he is an embodiment of humility and selfless service to all Catholics and the world in general. Although, I have not met him in person, he visited Nigeria some years ago to beautify Rev. Tansi. He was warmly welcomed. People came from all over the country to see him. It will be nice to see an African as a pope most especially as the population of Catholics in Africa has grown in the past decade. It will really be a source of inspiration to Africans. The position of the pope comes with an enormous challenges, but with God and prayers from the faithful, these challenges shall always be overcome.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

I'm a Tanzanian currently living in the US. I met the Pope in Tanzania in 1990. It was a faith strengthening, but also I saw a very humble high-profile man. Since then, I committed myself to becoming a good and humble servant of the Lord and his people. Now I'm in the seminary at Mundelein.
Ladislaus Anatoly, USA

It would be wonderful to see an African as the pope, Africa deserves to be represented in recognition to the christian movement in the continent. I would be interested in seeing how HIV/AIDS would be handled under the new pontificate. An African as a pope, will definitely work towards this issue, which would have far reaching religious and cultural consequences
Vishnu, India/USA

History will be kind to Pope John Paul II. He is truly A MAN amongst MEN
Gabrielle Beausang, Ireland

I believe that this pope has been one of the best that the Vatican has had to date. History will be kind to Pope John Paul II. He is truly "A MAN amongst MEN"
Gabrielle Beausang, Ireland

The Pope came to Ghana in 1980 when I was in the seminary. I served the Mass in Accra. His teachings have helped Africa.
James Arthur, USA




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