By Sarah Brown (CNN)
(CNN) — More than 80% of Africans believe their continent is ready for an African pope, but only 61% believe the world is, an exclusive survey for CNN has found.
The survey of 20,000 Africans from 11 nations, carried out on mobile phones by mobile technology company Jana, also found that 86% thought an African pope would increase support for Catholicism in Africa.
Almost two-thirds of those surveyed thought that the Vatican was ready for an African pontiff, while more than 50% believed the church would become more conservative under an African pope.
Respondents aged between 13 and 19 were slightly less likely to feel that their continent was ready for an African head of the church, with 22% saying it was not ready, while only 14.6% of those polled over 40 felt the same way.
CNN also asked those surveyed what an African pope would mean for the continent and for them personally.
The resulting comments revealed a wide range of views on the church’s role in the continent, on faith, homosexuality and racism.
“It would help strengthen the faith and belief of all African Catholics,” one Ghanaian said. “They will feel a part of the church.”
“An African pope will bring about more unity on the continent and confidence in Africans,” one woman from Zimbabwe said, while a young Nigerian man polled said an African pope “will eradicate immoralities, such as same-sex marriage and such like.”
Others, however, were more circumspect about what an African pope would mean for the continent and its Catholics.
“I don’t have a problem [with it], but will he stop the ongoing war in some African countries?” one Namibian responder said.
“He may be like the rest of them and just stay in the church; anyway they don’t make any difference in Africa.”
A Zimbabwean man surveyed also said he feared that an African pope would not be treated equally to those who had previously held the office.
“I think at first people might not accept him and it would take a long time for him to blend in, so his impact will not be that great.”
Jana conducted the poll between 7-11 March 2013 with mobile phone users from 11 nations — Lesotho, Rwanda, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria.
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