News / Africa

    Ghanaian Cardinal Seen as Humble Pope Candidate

    Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana arrives to attend a mass led by bishop Leonardo Sandri of Argentina in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, April 13, 2005.
    Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana arrives to attend a mass led by bishop Leonardo Sandri of Argentina in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, April 13, 2005.
    Joana Mantey
    Media speculation is rife as to who will become the next leader of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.  One candidate seen as a possible, even likely successor, is Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson from Ghana.  He is now serving as president of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace at the Vatican.  

    Humble beginnings

    The former Archbishop of Cape Coast, 64, grew up at Nsuta Wassaw, a small mining settlement in the western region of Ghana.  

    He received the first six years of his education in a school housed within a Catholic church building. Only the arrangement of tables separated one class from the other.  

    Turkson’s decision to enter the priesthood came as a shock to his family who saw him as the most mischievous among nine other siblings.  However, his firm resolve saw him move from St. Teresa’s Minor Seminary to St. Peter’s Regional Seminary in Ghana to St. Anthony on Hudson in New York, where he obtained two masters degrees in Theology and Divinity in 1974.

    After his ordination as a priest, Turkson dedicated his life to church work and teaching in seminaries in Ghana and Ivory Coast.  Later, he studied for his doctorate in sacred scriptures in Rome.  

    Accomplishments

    The son of a carpenter has impacted the lives of many including Emmanuel Abbeyquaye, assistant secretary general of the Ghana Catholic Bishop’s Conference.  Abbeyquaye was among six students mentored for a period of three months and later ordained as priests by Cardinal Turkson.  

    “When you get close to Cardinal Turkson, you are struck by the aura of holiness around him.  He is a man of God.  We will have our meetings with him in the evenings and pray together and go and sleep but he will be there," Abbeyquaye explained.  "He will spend an hour or two with God before he will go and sleep.  Now you wake up at five and go to the church and he will be there praying.”

    Turkson is the only Ghanaian to rise to the position of cardinal at the Vatican.  Now as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, he is trying to promote reform of the international financial system through the establishment of a Global Public Authority and Central World Bank.  

    He is hoping such institutions would deal fairly with developing countries especially in crisis situations.

    Abbeyquaye says those ideas are meant to protect the welfare of vulnerable people in society.

    “He believes that whenever economic crises occur in the world, it is the poor who suffer most.  He is bringing the conscience of the world to the fact that these economic crises should not negatively impact on the poor because already they are suffering,” Abbeyquaye said.

    Hope

    About half of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics live in the global south.  This and other developments such as the role played by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan -- another native Ghanian -- and the rise of U.S. President Barack Obama are raising hope that there might be a black pope.

    Dan Jide, protocol officer at Ghana's National Catholic Secretariat, says although the time is ripe for a black man to be considered for the position, it is not so much about color as ability to deliver.

    “The cardinal is highly educated.  He is an intellectual.  He can handle that position very very well," noted Jide. "Not only that, he speaks many languages.  He speaks Hebrew, French, German, Italian, English and his native Fanti.”

    Jide said that ability, coupled with his humility can help the cardinal to relate with people worldwide.

    “I meet him at the airport when he comes to Accra on visits.  And I take him through the VIP lounge but he says, 'Dan, why don’t we go through the ordinary transit point?'  He is just an ordinary person.  We laugh, we share jokes.  Very ordinary,” Jide mused.

    Selection of a new pope is expected to be finalized by end of March, before Easter.

    Possible New Candidates for Pope

    Loading...

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: lyndon
    February 18, 2013 10:28 PM
    I can say that it it indeed wrong to speculate and predict the possibility of electing the pope without being bias to a particular candidate. If US elected a black leader for a president it does not mean the rest of the world are bound to. It is like saying they are underdogs because they are black, constituting minority to inferior leadership and the race. All the candidates are possible to be elected, but the odds are great for the non-European candidates. If a black Pope is possible why stop there, how about an American Pope or most unlikely possibility an Asian Pope.

    by: Kafantaris from: USA, Ohio
    February 14, 2013 10:37 AM
    The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is a masterstroke if it leads the Roman Catholic Church to electing its first black Pope.
    If only the Archbishops of Eastern Orthodox Churches had such foresight -- and courage.

    by: Markpbc from: USA
    February 14, 2013 9:28 AM
    How could you write this story without mentioning that he is a supporter of homophobic legislation and has defended Africa's anti-gay laws, which would make gay relations punishable by death? I mean maybe you're OK with that, but ignoring it makes you a propagandist, not a journalist.
    In Response

    by: jimmy from: az
    February 18, 2013 2:40 PM
    no it just means you believe in God! You liberals think you're so smart. And in fact you are smart. Too smart to see the error of your ways. I don't think killing people for being gay is right. While they are still alive they can be saved. But once death finds them, it's too late. Sorry. That's just fact. Open your eyes and stop living a world based on science and instead wrap your heart around faith.
    In Response

    by: Bonnie Parmenter from: USA
    February 14, 2013 5:47 PM
    What bothers me most of this Peter Turkson is his favor of a one world authority and one world bank. History has proven its self over and over there should never be one world authority. The powers that be could have the best intentions in the world but maybe the next would not.
    In Response

    by: Lamido from: Lancaster
    February 14, 2013 9:57 AM
    Markpbc,
    Could you please refer us to any socio/geo/political ill or inequity that you are not OK with but unignored by you in public redress and commentary, that you are so passionate about, yet disenfranchises you from your accusation.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora