Friday, February 15, 2013

Peter Cardinal Turkson, The African Pope?

Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson
Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church
Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Coast

Quick Facts:
  • Born October 11, 1948 (age 64)
  • From  Wassaw Nsuta, Ghana
  • Attended St. Therese Seminary (Minor) in Ghana
  • Attended St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary (Major) in NYC
  • Ordained to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ on July 20, 1975
  • Recieved a Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) in 1992 from the Pontifical Bible Institute
  • Appointed Archbishop of Cape Coast by PJPII on Ocotber 6, 1992
  • Served as President of the Ghana Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1997-2005
  • Was Created a Cardinal in PJPII's last consistory on October 21, 2003
  • Currently serves as President of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice since his 2009 appointment by Pope Benedict XVI
  • Languages spoken: Italian, French, German, English, Fante, and Hebrew. Understands Latin and Greek

Cardinal Turkson is a member of various commissions and congregations within the Vatican including a recent appointment to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pontifical Commission for the Culture and Heritage of the Church, the Congregation for Catholic Education and finally the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses. 

Cardinal Turkson has stated since Pope Benedict's resignation that the church needs a "restore and repair" effort to address the recent scandals that plagued the current Pontiffs administration which included the child abuse scandals, poorly written address that offended Muslim groups, and most recently the Vatican-butler scandal.

Turkson himself however, has been in the hot seat when it comes to Muslim relations having received a lot of flak for screening a video that suggested that Europe was being overrun by Muslims.

The African Prelate also takes the stance that the church needs to focus itself on being relevant in todays world while keeping the traditionalism that the church represents. He said "(the challenge is keeping the orthodox church while) at the same time knowing how to apply it so that you do not become irrelevant in a world that has continuous changes"

While it seems the Cardinal would take a more lax approach to the papacy as in times past, I think it's important to note that likely won't be happening. Cardinal Turkson has made comments about the ineffectiveness of Condoms in the fight on Aids, and has mentioned that contraceptive methods should continue to be unacceptable. From everything I read, he will not be a progressive Pope, but will try to be a more accessible Pope, more in line with the papacy of our beloved JPII. He recognizes the need for the papacy to be not only the upholder of the faith, but also to be the accessible face of the Church. It is in this that the papacy remains relevant in my opinion, and I think he shares that opinion as well.

The media frenzy surrounding the Cardinal right now almost show as though he is campainging for the job, and I seriously doubt he is actually doing that. It is more probably that the media has taken out of context his comments. Any Cardinal should be willing if the Holy Spirit should call him to the Chair of St. Peter. I think the Cardinal realizes he may be called to this Ministry and is ready to listen to the word of God, if it should so say.

My overall opinion on the Cardinal is that he could be a breath of fresh air in the Vatican, he seems not to be as contemplative in nature to Pope Benedict XVI, which would allow him a more Charismatic approach to the ministry. He is also a lot younger than B16, in fact he is just 6 years older than John Paul was when he took the reigns of the Vatican. So we could be looking at a much more permanent Papacy with Cardinal Turkson than almost a transitory Papacy of B16 which only lasted 8 years in total. I think should he be chosen he would serve the church well and it would be a vote of confidence to a blooming, maturing church in the third world.

So will we have a Pope from the African continent? Highly likely, some are giving him a 2:1 shot, and almost every list has him near the top. Of course, that decision is left in the hands of his brother Cardinals and the Holy Spirit.


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