ROME — Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana is not "running" for pope but he clearly has supporters who think enough of him that they have plastered posters with his picture around Rome.
"Vote Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson at the conclave!,'' was written in bold on posters above a photograph of the cardinal, a favorite among bookmakers to succeed Benedict, who on Thursday became the first pope in six centuries to resign.
The posters were plastered over banners that had been used for candidates in Italian elections earlier this week.
Unlike the Italian parliamentary election, candidates for the papacy cannot launch public campaigns, suggesting the poster came from Turkson fans or maybe even pranksters.
Cardinals will meet in a closed-door conclave in the Sistine Chapel in about 10 days, a gathering where their choice is said to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and not earthly politics.
Turkson would be the first non-European to lead the Catholic Church in more than a millennium if he elected.
But an old Roman saying warns about campaigning, even indiscreetly, to become pope or even trying to predict the outcome of conclaves.
It goes: "He who enters a conclave as pope, exits as a cardinal.''