Is the pope Catholic? That question may be less rhetorical than a matter of conviction for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics if Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson is elected the next pope.
Turkson, who is 64 years old, is the odds-on favorite to succeed Pope Benedict XVI. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, the African prelate said his biggest challenge as pope would be to maintain orthodox Catholic doctrine while “at the same time knowing how to apply it so that you do not become irrelevant in a world that has continuous changes.”
He amplified on this view by noting that the Church must “evangelise” those who had embraced “alternative lifestyles, trends or gender issues.”
We need to find ways of dealing with the challenges coming up from society and culture…. We cannot fail in our task of providing guidance.
Homosexuality is far from the only hot-button issue Turkson has weighed in on. He caused a stir some years ago by screening a video claiming that Europe was in danger of being overrun by Muslims and insists that condoms are not the solution to preventing HIV.
Another challenge he assigns to the papacy is the responsibility for cleaning house, noting that the Vatican needs to “restore and repair” an image that has been “badly compromised by recent scandals.”
When asked about his chances of becoming the first African pope, he said:
It is a possibility. Already at the last conclave there was a move to have a candidate from the southern half of the globe.
Before I got here there was a young African cardinal called Arinze from Nigeria. And at every conclave everybody was talking about him as an emerging candidate. Arinze is now 80 and actually there is no way he can participate in the conclave. So after Arinze another African shows up in the Vatican, now there are actually two of us, there is a cardinal from Guinea. So again there is speculation.
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