Cardinal Appiah Turkson, One Of The Contenders To Succeed Pope Benedict XVI

Former Archbishop of Cape Coast Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson has been named by pundits as one of the contenders to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who on Monday, February 11, 2013 announced his resignation with effect from February 28. Though most pundits have described Cardinal Turkson's inclusion in the successors’ roll as a wild card, he is one of the highest-ranking African cardinals at the Vatican. He is currently President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Given half of the world’s Catholics live in the global south, there will be arguments for a pope to come from the developing world, brightening the chances of the Ghanaian to be pope. Cardinal Appiah Turkson was appointed to his current position by Pope Benedict XVI but he was elevated to the cardinalate by late Pope John Paul II in 2003. Contenders to be Pope Benedict’s successor include Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the archbishop of Vienna, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican’s office for bishops. Longshots include Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. Although Dolan is popular and backs the pope’s conservative line, the general thinking is that the Catholic Church doesn’t need a pope from a “superpower.” Cardinal Antonio Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, has impressed many Vatican watchers, but at 56 and having only been named a cardinal last year, he is considered too young. All cardinals under age 80 are allowed to vote in the conclave, the secret meeting held in the Sistine Chapel where cardinals cast ballots to elect a new pope. As per tradition, the ballots are burned after each voting round; black smoke that snakes out of the chimney means no pope has been chosen, while white smoke means a pope has been elected. The pontiff had been due to attend World Youth Day in July in Rio de Janeiro; by then his successor will have been named and will presumably make the trip. Benedict himself raised the possibility of resigning if he were simply too old or sick to continue on, when he was interviewed in 2010 for the book “Light of the World.” “If a pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right, and under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign,” Benedict said. He began his pontificate on April 19, 2005 following the death of Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Turkson was ordained in July, 1975 and consecrated 18 years later. He was born on October 11, 1948 at Wassaw-Nsuta in the Western Region of Ghana.