As Pope Benedict XVI said on Monday that he would resign on Feb. 28, citing poor health, speculation is already mounting about his potential replacement. And Cardinal Peter Turkson, the current president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is rumored to be a potential option. Here are five facts about the Vatican's first potential black pope:
1. The First Black Pope:
Turkson has said that "if God would wish to see a black man also as pope, thanks be to God." The Catholic Church chronicler Rocco Palmo called Turkson the lone Scripture scholar in the Pope's "Senate" and believes that his status as a potential "papabile" has been elevated due to his appointment as spokesman for Second Synod for Africa in 2009.
2. From Ghana to New York:
Turkson was born in Wassaw Nsuta in Western Ghana. 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 obtained a Bachelor's degree in theology. He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop John Amissah on 20 July 1975.
3. The Road to Rome:
On October 1992, Turkson was appointed Archbishop of Cape Coast by Pope John Paul II. And created him Cardinal-Priest of S. Liborio in his last consistory of October 2003. Turkson is the first Ghanaian cardinal, and was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave, which selected Pope Benedict XVI.
In 2009, Turkson reaffirmed the Catholic social teaching on contraception, in regards to statements made by Pope Benedict XVI that condoms were not a solution to Africa's AIDS crisis. He didn't rule out condoms in all circumstances suggesting they could be useful in the situation of a married, faithful couple where one partner is infected.
5. Turkson, Obama and Annan:
At a 2009 news conference, Turkson was asked whether he thought the time was right for a black Pope, especially in light of President Barack Obama's 2008 election. "Why not?" Turkson replied. He argued that every man who agrees to be ordained a priest has to be willing to be a Pope, and is given training along the way as bishop and cardinal. 'All of that is part of the package.' He also noted that former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was from Ghana.
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