Pope Francis on Thursday (23 December) accepted the resignation of prominent African Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson as prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development
A statement from the Vatican said, “While he [Pope Francis] sincerely thanked Card. Peter K Appiah Turkson and his collaborators for the service they have carried out and while awaiting the appointment of the new board, the Holy Father has entrusted on interim the ordinary management of the same Dicastry starting from 1 January 2022 to Card. Michael Czemy SJ as Prefect and Sister Alessandar Smerilli FMA as Secretary.”
Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson, seen by some as a candidate to become the first African pope in 1,500 years, abruptly offered his resignation from a key Vatican department.
Turkson, 73, from Ghana, has been a key advisor to Pope Francis on issues such as climate change and social justice, and is the only African to lead a Vatican department.
Turkson was leading a large Vatican department known as the Dicastery for Integral Human Development. It was formed in 2016 to merge four offices that dealt with issues such as peace, justice, migration and charities.
Third in a row
His departure would leave the Vatican with no African leading a major department, following the retirement of Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea earlier this year.
Turkson’s department underwent an external review under Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago at the Pope’s request earlier this year.
His offer to resign follows two high-level departures from the department over the summer, one through retirement and the other sudden and unexplained.
The Catholic Church had several popes of North African origin early in its history, the last in the 5th century.
Even if he leaves his Vatican post, Turkson would remain eligible until he turns 80 to enter a conclave of cardinals to elect the next pope after Francis dies or retires, according to Church rules.
Turkson’s decision to offer his resignation was first reported by the conservative Italian blog messainlatino.it.