When Cardinal Turkson was appointed by Pope Benedict to be President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 2009, he immediately went up on papabile lists.
In 2009, the Scripture scholar was the Relator for the Synod of Bishops for Africa (basically “spokesman,” just as Ouellet was for the Synod on the Word of God), and it was during this Synod that the news broke that he had been appointed to the Curia.
When Turkson received the red hat in 2003, he became Ghana’s first cardinal. He is known for his zeal for evangelization and his willingness to engage the media of this new age. Perhaps many Catholics today can relate to one piece of his biography — he is the child of a so-called “mixed marriage” — his father was Catholic, while his mother was Methodist.
Many people say that the Pope should come from the part of the world where the Church is growing so rapidly. The Church in Africa has tripled in size over the last thirty years, and there are now over 150 million Catholics in Africa. It seems that what once was mission territory is now providing missionary priests for Europe and the United States.
While I don’t think we should pick the Pope based on his skin color, there is something to be said for the Pope being familiar with the people who are quickly making up the future of the Church. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the next Pope will be from Africa. Like this story regarding Latin America, it is important that the Pope understand the regions, not necessarily be from them.
But Turkson isn’t just being talked about because of his skin color or his home continent. His resume speaks for itself — he’s a Curia member, a scholar (a graduate of the Pontifical Biblical Institute), a pastor (he worked in a parish while vice-rector at a seminary and was archbishop of Cape Coast), and a polyglot (English, French, Italian, Latin, German…).
Why he won’t… Everyone seems to be talking about him, but the noise seems to be coming from the secular media than from people in the Church.
Turkson is known for his humility, although he may be getting a false reputation for the exact opposite, after he said last week that he’d be willing to be Pope if God willed it. But to his defense, what else was he supposed to say? That he would turn it down?
But you know the saying… the one who goes into the conclave a Pope comes out a Cardinal… Any Cardinal who seems to be campaigning is probably not going to get elected.
This is not his doing and not his fault. The poor guy.
But it probably doesn’t look so great to the other Cardinals, either…
The other thing that’s not his fault but that might work against him is his first name. Do the Cardinals really want to open up this can of worms?