Originally published 03/05/2013
Amid all the fevered speculation about who might succeed Pope Benedict XVI, one possibility seems particularly tantalizing: that the conclave could elect an African to be the first black pontiff in the nearly 2,000-year history of the papacy.But in all that time has there really never been a black pope? Or an African pope? It depends on what you mean by “black” and by “African,” and answering those questions requires a bit of ancient history and some modern context....“North Africa was the Bible belt of early Christianity,” said Christopher Bellitto, a church historian at Kean University in New Jersey. “Carthage was the buckle,” he added, referring to the city located in modern-day Tunisia....