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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora