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 For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid