Peter Turkson

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Peter Turkson
Turkson in 2017
ChurchCatholic Church
Appointed4 April 2022
PredecessorMarcelo Sánchez Sorondo
Other post(s)Cardinal Priest of San Liborio (2003–)
Ordination20 July 1975
by John Kodwo Amissah
Consecration27 March 1993
by Dominic Kodwo Andoh
Created cardinal21 October 2003
by Pope John Paul II
RankCardinal Priest
Personal details
Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson

(1948-10-11) 11 October 1948 (age 75)
Wassaw Nsuta, Gold Coast
DenominationCatholic (Roman Rite)
Previous post(s)
Alma materSt. Teresa's Seminary- Amisano, Ghana
MottoVivere Christus est (To live is Christ)
Coat of armsPeter Turkson's coat of arms
Styles of
Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson (born 11 October 1948) is a Ghanaian prelate and cardinal of the Catholic Church who has served as chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences since 2022.[1] He was president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 2009 to 2017 and the inaugural prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development from 2017 to 2021.[2]

Turkson was Archbishop of Cape Coast from 1992 to 2009. He was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2003. He has been widely regarded as papabile, that is, a candidate for election to the papacy. The Tablet described him in 2013 as "one of Africa's most energetic church leaders".[3]

Early life and priesthood[edit]

Turkson was born in Wassaw Nsuta in Western Ghana to a Methodist mother and a Catholic father.[4] He is the fourth child of ten children. His mother sold vegetables in the open market while his father worked as a carpenter. He had a paternal uncle who was a Muslim.[5] He studied at St. Teresa's Minor Seminary in Amisano and St. Peter's Regional Seminary in Pedu before attending St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary in Rensselaer, New York, where he graduated with an M.A. in Theology and a Master of Divinity. He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop John Amissah on 20 July 1975. Additionally, he earned a licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1980. He returned to St Teresa's for a year, 1980–81, and became vice-rector at St Peter's Seminary in 1981. He also did pastoral work in a parish annexed to the seminary. From 1987 to 1992, he pursued doctoral studies in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute but his work on his thesis was interrupted by his appointment as archbishop of Cape Coast.

Episcopal career[edit]

On 6 October 1992, Turkson was appointed Archbishop of Cape Coast by Pope John Paul II. He received his episcopal consecration on 27 March 1993 from Archbishop Dominic Kodwo Andoh, with Archbishops Peter Poreku Dery and Peter Kwasi Sarpong serving as co-consecrators. He served as President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference from 1997 to 2005, and as Chancellor of the Catholic University College of Ghana beginning in 2003.[citation needed]

John Paul II created Turkson Cardinal-Priest of San Liborio in his final consistory of 21 October 2003. Turkson is the first Ghanaian cardinal and was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the papal conclave of 2005 that elected Pope Benedict XVI and the papal conclave of 2013 that elected Pope Francis.[citation needed]

Roman Curia[edit]

On 24 October 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Turkson president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.[6] Turkson is also a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and, since 4 March 2010, the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.[7] On 12 June 2012, Turkson was appointed a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education.[8]

On 16 October 2010 Pope Benedict named him to a five-year renewable term as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.[9][10] Since 2009 Turkson had been president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

In the spring of 2011, Pope Benedict XVI sent Cardinal Turkson as a mediator to contribute to a diplomatic, non-military solution to the civil conflict in Ivory Coast, where Laurent Gbagbo had refused, in spite of international condemnation and local protests and resistance, to step aside and hand over power to Alassane Ouattara, the certified winner of the presidential election. Atrocities have been committed by both sides.[11]

In October 2011, Turkson called for the establishment of a "global public authority" and a "central world bank" to rule over financial institutions that have become outdated and often ineffective in dealing fairly with crises. His text was very specific, calling for taxation measures on financial transactions.[12] It said that "The economic and financial crisis which the world is going through calls everyone, individuals and peoples, to examine in depth the principles and the cultural and moral values at the basis of social coexistence". The document condemned "the idolatry of the market" as well as "neo-liberal thinking" that looked exclusively at technical solutions to economic problems. "In fact, the crisis has revealed behaviours like selfishness, collective greed and hoarding of goods on a great scale." It added that world economics needed an "ethic of solidarity" among both rich and poor nations.[13][14]

On 13 October 2012, at a Vatican conference of bishops meant to address evangelizing lapsed Catholics, Turkson showed a YouTube video called "Muslim Demographics" that makes alarmist predictions about the growth of Islam in Europe, a video Reuters called "spurious".[15] Vatican Radio described it as a "fear-mongering presentation".[16] It resulted in "the most raucous back-and-forth most synod veterans have ever witnessed."[17] On 15 October, he apologized and said he had only hoped to focus discussion on more practical issues.[16]

Cardinal Turkson pictured in Helsinki, Finland, in 2016

In 2016, Pope Francis sent Turkson as his special envoy to pursue peace in South Sudan: to urge an end to violence in the country, and to help establish dialogue and trust between the warring parties. Turkson traveled to Juba to support the archbishop and to meet with the country's leaders. He also carried with him a letter from Francis for President Salva Kiir and one for Vice President Riek Machar who are historic enemies and represent different ethnic groups.[18]

On 31 August 2016, Pope Francis created the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, naming Turkson as its first prefect, effective 1 January 2017.[19]

Ahead of the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Dublin, Turkson was announced as homilist at the opening ceremony at the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow.[20]

On 23 December 2021, Pope Francis thanked Turkson for his service at the conclusion of his five-year term as prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, appointing Cardinal Michael Czerny as his temporary replacement.[2]

On 4 April 2022, Pope Francis named him chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.[1]

Turkson speaks English, Fante, French, Italian, German, and Hebrew, in addition to understanding Latin and Greek.[21]

Papabile status[edit]

Following the announcement on 11 February 2013 of the planned resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Turkson was identified by the media as a possible candidate for the papacy.[21][22][23][24][25][26] Bookmakers Paddy Power and Ladbrokes made Turkson the favourite to be elected pope,[27] with Paddy Power giving 2/1 odds.[28] Odds variously of 4/1,[29] 11/4 against (by Paddy Power), and 5/4 against (by Ladbrokes) were given.[30] Parties unknown placed fake election posters in Rome with the caption "At the conclave, vote Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson!"[31]

Cardinal Peter Turkson, the CIDSE Secretary General Bernd Nilles, and the French bishop Stanislas Lalanne
Cardinal Peter Turkson attended the opening ceremony of Fu Jen Catholic University Hospital in 2017


HIV/AIDS and condoms[edit]

In 2009, he reaffirmed the Catholic moral teaching on contraception, in regard to statements made by Pope Benedict XVI that condoms were not a solution to Africa's AIDS crisis that were taken out of context by the media.[32] Turkson said that the quality of condoms in Africa is poor, their use would also engender false confidence. He said fidelity and, if infected, refraining from sex were the key to fighting the epidemic. He also said that the money being spent on condoms should instead be spent on providing anti-retroviral drugs to those already infected. He has affirmed that in certain circumstances natural family planning can be used.[33][34]


In 2012, in response to a speech by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urging Church leaders to do more for human rights and in particular LGBT rights in Africa, Turkson acknowledged that some of the sanctions imposed on homosexuals in Africa were an "exaggeration" but pointed out that the stigmatization of homosexuality in Africa is traditional and "just as there’s a sense of a call for rights, there’s also a call to respect culture, of all kinds of people." Turkson called on the Secretary-General to recognize the "subtle distinction between morality and human rights," and not disrespect moral doctrine in the name of protecting human rights.[35]

Turkson has endorsed anti-sodomy laws, in particular the Ugandan legislation on sodomy.[36]

Clerical sexual abuse[edit]

In February 2013, Turkson told an interviewer that he believes that the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, if found in Africa, would not likely be in the same proportion as it is found in Europe. He said that "African traditional systems ... have protected its population against this tendency" and that "in several cultures in Africa homosexuality or for that matter any affair between two sexes of the same kind are not countenanced".[37]

Reform of the international financial system[edit]

In response to the global economic crisis that hit in 2008, Turkson, together with bishop Mario Toso, elaborated a proposal to reform the international financial system by creating a Global Public Authority and a Global Bank that consider the interests of all developing countries. The document of 40 pages was officially presented in October 2011 and criticises the current structure of the International Monetary Fund and other institutions.[38]


In a 2010 interview by L'Osservatore Romano, Turkson stated that "toxic values" such as "relativism" and "atheistic secularism" should be avoided. He also stated that bad political leadership and exploitation of differences between many Africans has led to a lack of peace and justice in Africa.[39]

In August 2015, Turkson spoke at a pro-life conference of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference in Accra's Holy Spirit Cathedral.[40] In 2017, he held that pro-life activism and the message on climate change "are not separable."[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Rinunce e nomine, 04.04.2022" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 4 April 2022. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Comunicato della Sala Stampa della Santa Sede, 23.12.2021" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 23 December 2021. Retrieved 24 December 2021.
  3. ^ "A new pope: The contenders". The Toronto Star. 13 March 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  4. ^ "Celibacy? It's not foreign to African culture". 30 Days. October 2005.
  5. ^ O'Connell, Gerard (21 October 2012). "Cardinal Turkson: "For me to attack Islam would be to attack my own family"". Vatican Insider. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  6. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 14.10.2009" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  7. ^ "Rinunce e Nomine, 04.03.2010" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 4 March 2010. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 December 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Di Membri Della Congregazione Per La Dottrina Della Fede Nomina Di Membri Della Congregazione Per La Dottrina Della Fede". 16 October 2010. Archived from the original on 14 September 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  10. ^ "Church's justice teachings need new 'vocabulary' for some US audiences". Catholic News Agency. 13 January 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  11. ^ "Pope appeals for end to violence, start of peace talks for Ivory Coast". Catholic News. Archived from the original on 10 September 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  12. ^ "Full Text: Note on financial reform from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace". Archived from the original on 7 January 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  13. ^ Pullella, Philip (24 October 2011). "Vatican calls for global authority on economy, raps "idolatry of the market"". Reuters. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  14. ^ Kington, Tom (24 October 2011). "Vatican joins calls for crackdown on financial markets". Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  15. ^ O'Leary, Naomi (15 October 2012). "Cardinal causes uproar with "Muslim scare" video at Vatican". Reuters.
  16. ^ a b "Video on Muslim demographics sparks lively debate at Synod". La Stampa. 17 October 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2021.
  17. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (15 October 2021). "Synod notebook: Video on Islam rocks the house". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 25 December 2021.
  18. ^ "Pope Sends Cardinal Turkson to Pursue Peace in South Sudan". Zenit. 22 July 2016. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  19. ^ "Pope creates new curial dicastery, names Cardinal Turkson prefect : News Headlines". Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  20. ^ "WMOF2018 Day One (Tuesday 21st August 2018): The Opening Ceremony for World Meeting of Families 2018". World Meeting of Families. Archived from the original on 27 August 2018.
  21. ^ a b Jones, Sam; Hirsch, Afua (11 February 2013). "Who will be the next pope? The contenders for Vatican's top job". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  22. ^ Svenja O’Donnell & Fergal O’Brien (11 February 2013). "Ghana's Turkson Favorite to Succeed Benedict as Pope". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  23. ^ "Who Will Replace Pope Benedict?". Business Insider. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  24. ^ Mickens, Robert (31 December 2011). "Conclave contenders". The Tablet. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  25. ^ Gumbleton, Thomas (10 May 2012). "A poll average from Rome on the next pope". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  26. ^ "White Smoke and a Black Pope: Is Turkson the Church's Future?". The New Yorker. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  27. ^ "Pope Benedict XVI says he will resign ANSA reports". BBC News. 12 February 2013.
  28. ^ "One of These Men Will Be The Next Pope". Business Insider. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  29. ^ Dugdale, Addy (11 February 2013). "Pope Still Bigger on Twitter Than North Korea And State of the Union Address". Fast Company. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  30. ^ "Spoof campaign poster for Cardinal Turkson appears in pre-conclave Rome". Reuters. Archived from the original on 4 March 2013.
  31. ^ "Cardinal Turkson campaign posters appear in Rome for Pope". Ghana Business News. 2 March 2013. Archived from the original on 24 February 2021. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  32. ^ "Cardinal Turkson defends Pope's condom comments". 4 April 2009. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  33. ^ "Condoms are not reliable in fight against HIV, says African cardinal". Catholic News. Archived from the original on 8 October 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  34. ^ "Cardinal Turkson on Condoms and HIV/AIDS". 5 October 2009. Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  35. ^ Pentin, Edward (21 February 2012). "Cardinal Responds to U.N.'s Criticism of Africa's Social Policies". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  36. ^ "Papal Candidate Turkson Continues to Reveal Anti-Gay Attitudes". New Ways Ministry. 20 February 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2022. Turkson made headlines last week when it was revealed that he supported Uganda's draconian penalties for homoesexuality.
  37. ^ Burke, Samuel (12 February 2013). "Meet the man who could be the first black pope". CNN. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  38. ^ Vatican joins calls for crackdown on financial markets 25 October 2011
  39. ^ "Interview with Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson". EWTN. 10 March 2010. Retrieved 16 February 2022. cherish her truly human values, referring to her as a healthy lung of humanity which must maintain its healthiness through the avoidance of toxic values of foreign cultures, such as relativism and atheistic secularism . … the lack of peace and the search for justice in parts of the continent have to do principally with politics (bad political leadership) and its exploitation of ethnic and religious differences to prop it up, the economics of keeping Africa as a "market" for manufacturing countries and the world's need for its mineral resources, and new versions of religious conquests and impositions.
  40. ^ "Pro-Life Event in Ghana's Capital Spills Out onto the Streets of Accra". Aleteia. 11 August 2015. Retrieved 22 February 2022. Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was one of several speakers at the conference, which was held in Accra's Holy Spirit Cathedral. Ekeocha urged participants to work towards ejecting international pro-choice agencies from Ghana, where they are promoting condom use and abortion in some hospitals, schools and villages and seeking to normalize homosexual relations.
  41. ^ "Turkson: Pro-life cause and concern for environment are 'inseparable'". Crux. 1 September 2017. Retrieved 16 February 2022. The message on climate change coincides perfectly with any pro-life activism, or any belief in human life. The two are not separable.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Archbishop of Cape Coast
6 October 1992 – 24 October 2009
Succeeded by
Preceded by Cardinal-Priest of San Liborio
21 October 2003 – present
Preceded by President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
24 October 2009 – 1 January 2017
Office abolished
New title Prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development
1 January 2017 – 23 December 2021
Succeeded by
Michael Czerny
ad interim