Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson is a senior ecclesiastical leader and the first Ghanaian Priest Cardinal to serve the Roman Catholic Church. Before being elevated to cardinalship by Pope John Paul II, he was appointed as the Archbishop of Cape Coast. He received his first Episcopal consecration in this post. He has also served as the cardinal priest of San Liborio and had been elevated to papacy by Pope Benedict XVI. Turkson started his career as a professor of Sacred Scripture in St Teresa’s Seminary. From here, he went to the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome where he also earned a licentiate in Sacred Scriptures. Being highly knowledgeable in Biblical scriptures, and theology, he was appointed as the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Ghana. He has also served as the Chancellor of Ghana’s Catholic University College. A few years back, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCFP). Throughout his career, Turkson has been a member of several Vatican bodies and has served for the Methodic Catholic Dialogue and the Pontifical Commission for Cultural Patrimony. In an attempt to reform the global financial system, Turkson had also elaborated a proposal for establishing an ‘global public authority’ and a ‘central world bank’.
Childhood & Early Life
Turkson was born on 11th October 1948 in Wassaw Nsuta, a small mining town of Western Ghana. He came from a humble family background and his parents had nine other children apart from him. His mother was a Methodist while his father was a Roman Catholic.
He began his education in small village of Amisano and Pedu. Here, he studied in the St. Teresa’s Seminary. Turkson continued his graduation in Theology from St. Anthony Hudson Seminary in Renssealer, New York. He earned his Master of Theology degree from this Seminary. While continuing graduation, he had also completed a summer course at the Albany University. On 20th July 1975, Archbishop John Amissah ordained him to the priesthood.
In 1975, Turkson started his academic career as a professor at the Minor Seminary at St. Teresa’s. While continuing his professorship, he entered Rome’s Pontifical Biblical Institute. Here, he earned a licentiate in Sacred Scripture after which he returned to St. Teresa and served as the Vice Rector at the St Peter’s Seminary. During this time, he also did some small pastoral works in a nearby parish.
In 1987, he began his doctoral studies in Sacred Studies from the Pontifical Biblical Institute. However, after being appointed as the Archbishop of Cape Coast, he could not complete his thesis.
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He was appointed as the Archbishop of Cape Coast on 6th October 1992 by Pope John Paul II.
In 1993, Archbishop Dominic Kodwo Andoh ordained him his first episcopal consecration.
In 1997, his fellow bishops appointed him as the president of the Ghanaian Catholic Bishops’ Conference. During this time, he was one of the youngest bishops to become the president.
From 2001–2006, Turkson was a member of the University Council of Ghana. In the same period, he was also a member of directors’ board of the Central Development Commission.
From 2007–2009, he was appointed as the treasurer of the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar. This symposium is considered to be a continental body of the bishops’ conferences that takes place in Africa. During this time, he was also appointed as the president of the West African Episcopal Conferences.
He was appointed as the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace by Pope Benedict XVI on 24th October, 2009. In the same year, he also became a member of evangelization of people’s congregation and the divine worship congregation. He also served for the Pontifical Council for Cultural Harmony and the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.
In 2010, he became a member of the Pontifical Council for Global Eucharistic Congress. In the same year, owing to his huge popularity, he was made member of the Doctrine of Faith Congregation by Pope Benedict. Being an inhabitant of Rome, Turkson attends both the ordinary and plenary meetings of these congregations and councils.
In 2011, Cardinal Turkson was sent as a Vatican mediator to come up with a diplomatic and non-violent solution to the deadly conflict in the Ivory Coast. In the same year, he called for establishing a new ‘global public authority’ and a ‘central world bank’ for ruling over those financial units that are ineffective and that do not have ample resources to deal with severe monetary crisis.
Currently, Turkson is serving as the Cardinal Priest of the Roman Catholic Church.
On 24th October 2009 Peter Turkson was appointed as the Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. As a cardinal, he was responsible for electing a new pope after the death or abdication of the existing pope. He was also responsible for forming the Roman Curia and presiding over the church congregations.
In order to combat the global economic crisis of 2008, Cardinal Turkson elaborated a proposal for the reformation of the global financial system. He drafted a 40-pages proposal along with the Bishop, Mario Toso.
Awards & Achievements
Peter Turkson was awarded the ‘Order of Star’, a national honor of Ghanaian Republic.
He was honored with the ‘Order of Rock’ by the Anomabo Traditional Area, of Central Ghana.
Personal Life & Legacy
Being a Cardinal, Turkson is a bachelor.
Even though he is popular for his speeches and religious reforms, his staunch and conservative views on the use of condoms and homosexuality have invited criticism.
Peter Turkson is proficient in multiple languages. Apart from being proficient in English and his mother tongue Fante; he is also fluent in French, German, Hebrew and Italian.