Pope Francis I is the first non-European Catholic Church leader for over 1,200 years.
The last non-European Pope before Francis I was Gregory III.
Pope Saint Gregory III led the Catholic Church from 11 February 731 to 28 November 741, when he died.
He was the last Pope to be born outside Europe until the election of Pope Francis I on 13 March 2013.
Gregory, the son of a Syrian named John, was elected pope by popular acclamation on 11 February 731, but was not formally consecrated as Bishop of Rome until 18 March, after having received the approval of the Byzantine exarch in Ravenna.
Pope Gregory III was the last pope to seek the exarch’s ratification of a papal election.
Gregory III was the last Pope to be born outside Europe until the election of Pope Francis I on 13 March 2013
Pope Francis I, like most of his countrymen, is of Italian descent, so he bridges the Italian-dominated Church administration with Latin America, which accounts for 40% of all the world’s Catholics. Culturally always part of Western Europe, Argentina is also rather secular, with over 11% of people “indifferent towards religion”, compared to figures of under 2% in predominantly non-European Peru, Paraguay and Colombia.
Several of the early popes were Syrian, and just as the centre of Christianity in its early years shifted from the Middle East to Europe, so now it is moving across the seas. The twilight of Middle Eastern Christianity is the great tragedy of our times, Syria also being the birthplace of Christian music, among other things. But the decline of European Catholicism is also sad, because what makes Catholicism so beautiful, aesthetically, it is Italian-ness, which during that country’s long cultural dominance of Europe inspired such art and devotion.
Katie Holmes has turned her back on the controversial religion of Scientology by registering with a Catholic church in New York, it has been claimed.
According to a new report, the actress has formally confirmed her return to Catholicism by signing up to the Church of St. Francis Xavier.
Katie Holmes’ decision to register as a parishioner at the church has been met with excitement by the congregation.
One member of the church choir told the Huffington Post: “Everyone is thrilled to have Katie join us.
“She has not yet attended a service, but when she does she will be welcomed with open arms.”
Katie Holmes has turned her back on the controversial religion of Scientology by registering with a Catholic church in New York
On its website, the Church of St. Francis Xavier, which dates back to 1847, “strives to be a prophetic, welcoming community, inclusive witness to the presence of Christ Jesus in our midst”, according to its mission statement.
The actress’ decision to register with the church is sure to be seen as her final way of distancing herself from Scientology.
And the move is also the latest sign that Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s six-year-old daughter Suri, of whom Katie is believed to have sole custody, will follow in the actress’ Catholic footsteps, rather than follow her father and his devotion to Scientology.