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

    Video How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves in Landmark Discovery

    Researchers likened discovery to difference between looking at piece of music on paper and then hearing it in real life

    Prince Ali: FIFA Politics Affected International Fixtures

    Some countries faced unfavorable treatment for not toeing political line inside soccer world body, Jordanian candidate to head FIFA says

    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.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.