Cardinal Turkson: The “conscience of the Church”
The 64-year-old president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Peter Turkson, is considered sophisticated, still down to earth. He could become the first Pope of the African continent.
Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson Kodowo has a good chance to become the new spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church. He even commented in a press conference: “If God would wish to see a black man also as pope, thanks be to God.” Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace since 2009, and the Vaticans “Minister of Social Affairs”, is also considered the “conscience of the Church.” Airs and graces are alien to the Cardinal. The people-friendly cleric acts always friendly and relaxed, even if his appointment schedule may suggest otherwise.
Turkson was born in Nsuta-Wassaw, Ghana, on October 11 1948, and grew up in a confessionally mixed family with nine brothers and sisters. His mother was a Evangelical-Methodist vegetable retailer, his father of Catholic Carpenter and his uncle a Muslim. He points this fact out against the criticism to have published an anti-Islamic video.
He first studied theology in his home country, later in New York and Rome, where he took his doctoral degree in biblical studies. In 1992, after years as a Professor of theology, he became Archbishop of Cape Coast. Since 1997, Turkson belongs to the Pontifical Commission for the dialogue between Methodists and Catholics. He speaks six languages.
Beginning of January Turkson spoke at an international ecumenical conference in Vienna (Austria), where he explained the Catholic position on environmental protection and put human dignity at the center of all considerations. The African Cardinal knows what he is talking about. Ghana, in the west of Africa, is a young dynamic country suffering from economic injustice. The large-scale gold mining by foreign corporations permanently threatens many people’s livelihood.
Supports financial transaction tax
But the churchman has also to deal with other global issues. For example the ecological overexploitation for the production of bio-diesel in many emerging markets, climate change and rising sea levels. Most recently, the Cardinal was also among those Church leaders who heavily campaigned for the introduction of a financial transaction tax. This was a way to bring back economics and finance to their proper social function.
However, his position on homosexuality and abortion triggered criticism. There is a difference between morality and human rights, and poverty should not be fought by limiting the population, but by investing in education, the cardinal said. And as for homosexuality, he said, the traditional tabooing of homosexuality in Africa, hase saved the church from abuse scandals.
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The most promising Pope candidates part III: Angelo Scola
The most promising Pope candidates part IV: Tarcisio Bertone
The most promising Pope candidates part V: Marc Ouellet
The most promising Pope candidates part VI: Timothy Dolan
The most promising Pope candidates part VII:Luis Antonio Tagle
The most promising Pope candidates part VIII: Angelo Bagnasco
The most promising Pope candidates part IX: Gianfranco Ravasi
The most promising Pope candidates part X: Odilo Pedro Scherer