Peter Turkson

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His Eminence
Peter Turkson
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
Cardinal Tukson 987.jpg
Peter Turkson
Appointed 24 October 2009
Predecessor Renato Martino
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of San Liborio
Ordination 20 July 1975
by John Kodwo Amissah
Consecration 27 March 1993
by Dominic Kodwo Andoh
Created Cardinal 21 October 2003
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Birth name Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson
Born (1948-10-11) 11 October 1948 (age 68)
Wassaw Nsuta, Ghana
Nationality Ghanaian
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post Archbishop of Cape Coast (1992–2009)
Motto Vivere Christus est (To live is Christ)
Philippians 1:21
Coat of arms {{{coat_of_arms_alt}}}
Styles of
Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson
Coat of arms of Peter Turkson.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson (born 11 October 1948) is a Ghanaian cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He has been the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on 24 October 2009. Pope Francis has named him the first prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, which begins operations on 1 January 2017.

He previously served as Archbishop of Cape Coast. He was elevated to the cardinalate by Pope John Paul II in 2003, and is widely regarded as papabile, that is, a likely candidate for election to the papacy. The Tablet has described him as "one of Africa's most energetic church leaders".[1] An accomplished polyglot, Turkson speaks English, Fante, French, Italian, German, and Hebrew, in addition to understanding Latin and Greek.[2]

Early life and priesthood[edit]

Turkson was born in Wassaw Nsuta in Western Ghana to a Methodist mother and a Roman Catholic father.[3] 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.[4] He studied at St. Teresa's Seminary in the village of Amisano and Pedu before attending St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary in Rensselaer, New York, where he graduated with a Master of Theology degree. During this time he also took summer coursework at the University at Albany. He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop John Amissah on 20 July 1975.

Turkson was a professor at St Teresa's Minor Seminary from 1975 to 1976, and then he entered the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, earning a licentiate in Sacred Scripture 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.

John Paul II created Turkson Cardinal-Priest of S. 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.

Roman Curia[edit]

On 24 October 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Turkson President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.[5] 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.[6] On 12 June 2012 Cardinal Turkson was appointed a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education[7]

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[8]

Cardinal Turkson delivered the plenary address of the 2011 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington D.C. on the theme of “Protecting Human Life and Dignity: Promoting a Just Economy,” is sponsored by 19 Catholic organizations, including the U.S. Catholic bishops. In a recent interview with CNA, Turkson said he has learned from past experience that the Church's justice and peace terminology often needs clarification for an American Catholic audience. Key terms used by the Vatican such as "social justice" and "gift" are not always understood the way the Vatican intends, he said. "We found out that some of the vocabulary which is just taken for granted and used freely may not always have the same sense or may have had some nuances which sometimes are missed because of the way the terms are used in the American political context".

Pope Benedict XVI named Turkson president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in October 2009.[9]

In the spring of 2011, Pope Benedict XVI sent Cardinal Turkson as a Vatican 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.[10]

In October 2011 Cardinal 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.[11] 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 rich and poor nations.[12][13]

In October 2012 Turkson showed a YouTube video called "Muslim Demographics, at an international conference for bishops. Critics labelled it alarmist.[14]

In 2016 Pope Francis sent Cardinal Turkson as his special envoy to pursue peace South Sudan, to urge for 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 the different ethnic groups.[15]

On 31 August 2016, Pope Francis created the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, naming Turkson as its first prefect, effective 1 January 2017.[16]

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.[17][18][19][20][21] Bookmakers Paddy Power and Ladbrokes made Turkson the favourite to be elected pope,[22] with Paddy Power giving 2/1 odds.[23] Odds variously of 4/1,[24] 11/4 against (by PaddyPower), and 5/4 against (by Ladbrokes) were given.[25] Parties unknown placed faux election posters in Rome with the caption (translated) "At the conclave, vote Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson!"[26]

Cardinal Peter Turkson, the CIDSE Secretary General Bernd Nilles, and the French bishop Stanislas Lalanne

Cardinal Turkson has said that "if God would wish to see a black man also as pope, thanks be to God".[27] Catholic Church chronicler Rocco Palmo believes that Turkson's status as a potential papabile has been elevated due to his appointment as spokesman for Second Synod for Africa in 2009.[28]


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 and were taken out of context by the media.[29] Turkson did not rule out condoms in all circumstances; although he said that as he believes the quality of condoms in Africa are poor, their use could engender false confidence. He said abstinence, fidelity, and refraining from sex if infected were the key to fighting the epidemic. He also believes that the money being spent on condoms would be better spent providing anti-retroviral drugs to those already infected.[27][30][31]

Reform of the international financial system[edit]

In response to the global economic crisis started in 2008, Cardinal 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 interest of all developing countries. The document of 40 pages was officially presented in October 2011 and criticises the current structure of International Monetary Fund and other institutions.[32]

Homosexuality and sexual abuse[edit]

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, while recognising that some of the sanctions imposed on homosexuals in Africa are an "exaggeration", stated that the "intensity of the reaction is probably commensurate with tradition". "Just as there's a sense of a call for rights, there's also a call to respect culture, of all kinds of people", he said. "So, if it's being stigmatized, in fairness, it's probably right to find out why it is being stigmatized." He also called for distinction to be made between human rights and moral issues.[33]

In February 2013, Turkson told an interviewer that he believes that the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, if found in Africa, would "unlikely be in the same proportion as it has 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".[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Tablet, 23 April 2005
  2. ^ Sam Jones and Afua Hirsch: Who will be the next pope? The contenders for Vatican's top job The Guardian, 11 February 2013
  3. ^ 30 Days in the Church and the World: "Interview with Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson" October 2005
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Press Office of the Holy See
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Di Membri Della Congregazione Per La Dottrina Della Fede Nomina Di Membri Della Congregazione Per La Dottrina Della Fede". 16 October 2010. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  9. ^ "Church's justice teachings need new 'vocabulary' for some US audiences". 13 January 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "CNS STORY: Pope appeals for end to violence, start of peace talks for Ivory Coast". Catholic News. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  11. ^ Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority
  12. ^ Pullella, Philip (24 October 2011). "Vatican calls for global authority on economy, raps "idolatry of the market"". Reuters. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  13. ^ Tom Kington in the Vatican (24 October 2011). "Vatican joins calls for crackdown on financial markets". London: Guardian. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  14. ^ O'Leary, Naomi (15 October 2012). "Cardinal causes uproar with "Muslim scare" video at Vatican". Reuters. 
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ [2]
  17. ^ Svenja O’Donnell & Fergal O’Brien (11 February 2013). "Ghana's Turkson Favorite to Succeed Benedict as Pope". Bloomberg. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  18. ^ "Who Will Replace Pope Benedict?". Business Insider. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  19. ^ "Conclave contenders". The Tablet. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  20. ^ Gumbleton, Thomas (10 May 2012). "A poll average from Rome on the next pope". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  21. ^ "White Smoke and a Black Pope: Is Turkson the Church's Future?". The New Yorker. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  22. ^ "Pope Benedict XVI says he will resign ANSA reports". BBC News. 12 February 2013. 
  23. ^ "One of These Men Will Be The Next Pope". Business Insider. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  24. ^ 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. 
  25. ^ "Spoof campaign poster for Cardinal Turkson appears in pre-conclave Rome – FaithWorld". Reuters. 
  26. ^ "Cardinal Turkson campaign posters appear in Rome for Pope". Ghana Business News. 
  27. ^ a b Daily Mail (UK): "Yes, the next Pope could be black, says prominent African cardinal" 7 October 2009
  28. ^ Whispers in the Loggia: "The Grand Relator: For DC Cardinal, A Key Vatican Nod: 24 October 2011
  29. ^ "Cardinal Turkson defends Pope's condom comments". 4 April 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  30. ^ "Condoms are not reliable in fight against HIV, says African cardinal". Catholic News. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  31. ^ "Cardinal Turkson on Condoms and HIV/AIDS". 5 October 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  32. ^ Vatican joins calls for crackdown on financial markets 25 October 2011
  33. ^ Pentin, Edward. "Cardinal Responds to U.N.'s Criticism of Africa's Social Policies". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  34. ^ Burke, Samuel (12 February 2013). "Meet the man who could be the first black pope". CNN. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Kodwo Amissah
Archbishop of Cape Coast
6 October 1992 – 24 October 2009
Succeeded by
Matthias Kobena Nketsiah
Preceded by
Renato Raffaele Martino
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
24 October 2009–present