Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, key advisor to the Pope and the only African to head a Vatican department, has abruptly offered his letter of resignation
Peter Turkson, the Ghanian cardinal to the Catholic Church and the only African to head a Vatican department, has abruptly offered his letter of resignation on Saturday.
Turkson has become one of the key advisors to Pope Francis on issues like climate control and social justice, and some experts say he could have been a leading candidate to become the next pope, which would make him the first Black pope in 1,500 years.
The pope has yet to announce his acceptance of the resignation.
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN – APRIL 09: Archbishop of Cape Coast, Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson attends Palm Sunday Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square on April 9, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican. At the end of the mass Pope Francis condemned the terror attack on a Coptic church dedicated to St. George ‘ Mar Girgis ‘ in the city of Tanta, north of Cairo, which killed at least 21 people and injured nearly 60 others. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
According to inside sources, Turkson is reportedly “fed up” with internal disputes in the Catholic Church.
The 73-year-old heads the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, which was founded in 2016 to deal with issues like peace, justice, and migration.
Earlier this year, the Pope requested that Turkson’s department undergo an external review headed by the Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago.
If accepted, Turkson’s departure would leave the Vatican with no African head of a major department.
The other African department head, Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, retired in February after being appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1979.
This year has been particularly rocky for the Vatican.
Following a continuation of the clergy child sexual abuse scandal, a new 2021 report alleged that more than 200,000 minors were abused by the Catholic Church in France over the past seven decades. Several members of the church faced abuse charges and were forced to vacate their positions.
In June 2021, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx sent a letter of resignation as a symbol of the church’s “systemic failure” on child abuse and said that he wanted to “share the responsibility” of the mishandling of cases.
Pope Francis denied Marx’s request, commanding him to continue as archbishop.
“It is urgent to air out this reality of the abuses and how the Church acted, and let the Spirit lead us to the desert of desolation, to the cross and to the resurrection,” said the Pope in a statement responding to the heightened calls for the church to address the longstanding issues of sexual assault.
“Silences, omissions, and giving too much weight to the prestige of the institution only leads to personal and historical failure, and makes us live with the weight of having skeletons in the closet,” he added.
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN – MARCH 12: Ghanian Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson attends the Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass at St Peter’s Basilica, before they enter the conclave to decide who the next pope will be,on March 12, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Cardinals are set to enter the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI after he became the first pope in 600 years to resign from the role. The conclave is scheduled to start on March 12 inside the Sistine Chapel and will be attended by 115 cardinals as they vote to select the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
According to Church rules, Turkson would still be eligible to be a part of the group of cardinals that gets to elect the next pope after Francis dies or retires.
Despite not giving an official reason for his resignation, Vatican sources say that Turkson will give more information after the Pope makes his decision.
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