Explained: The Place Of Cardinal Turkson As Pope Francis Appoints Another Cardinal From Ghana

Explained: The Place Of Cardinal Turkson As Pope Francis Appoints Another Cardinal From Ghana

  • Pope Francis' has appointed 21 new cardinals from predominantly developing countries including one from Ghana, Most Rev. Richard Kuuia Baawobr
  • Reports indicate that Pope Francis is seeking to reduce Europe's influence in the mother church with his new appointments
  • Many have also questioned the place of Ghana's Cardinal Peter Turkson following Bishop Baawobr's appointment

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In what some longstanding Vatican reporters are calling a surprise announcement on Sunday, May 29, 2022 in Rome, Pope Francis elected another Cardinal from Ghana to join His Eminence Cardinal Peter Turkson.

The Pope’s appointment of the Catholic Bishop of the Wa Diocese, Most Rev. Richard Kuuia Baawobr, as a cardinal brings to three the number of Ghanaian Bishops to have risen to that esteemed office. The late Cardinal Peter Dery was elected a Cardinal in 2006 and served in that position until his death in 2008.

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The appointment of a new cardinal for Ghana has raised questions about the place of Cardinal Turkson, especially following rumours that he had “resigned”. Cardinal Turkson debunked those rumours with an explanation that he has rather been appointed chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences after serving as prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for the stipulated five years.

Pope Francis (L) Most Rev. Richard Kuuia Baawobr
Pope Francis (L) Most Rev. Richard Kuuia Baawobr. Source: UGC/Getty Images and @GNA1957
Source: UGC

What is the significance of appointing a new cardinal from Ghana?

Because cardinals rank very high on the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, second only to the Pope, the countries or regions a Pope elects them from provide a glimpse into the Pope’s – for that matter the Vatican’s – interests for the universal church. For instance, both Reuters and US Catholic perceive Pope Francis’ desire to reduce the influence of the Catholic Church’s sphere of influence from Europe and to build a truly global church.

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However, many people with insights into Vatican affairs believe Pope Francis seems to tilt this sphere of influence towards developing countries, particularly Asia, with his choice of cardinals.

Furthermore, because the primary responsibilities of cardinals, apart from electing a Pope, are to serve as advisors and assistants to the incumbent Pope, the countries (or regions) they are elected from confirm the weight the Church puts on those countries (or regions).

What is the place of Cardinal Turkson?

Since both Cardinals Turkson and Baawobr have not reached the cut-off age of 80 years, they can vote in a conclave to elect a new Pope when the need arises. However, the new cardinal will be resident in Ghana and still shepherd the Diocese of Wa until he is given an appointment at the Vatican, YEN.com.gh sources say.

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The election of a Bishop Baawobr as a cardinal has also been described as an honour to the Catholic Church in Ghana as it means the Universal Church recognises the activism of its members in Ghana.

But key to cardinal-elect Baawobr's appointment is also his competencies. He joined the Society of Missionaries of Africa (M.Afr.) in 1981 after his Philosophical Studies and has served as a priest since 1987. His multicultural experience is unmatched as he has served in the Democratic Republic of Congo for four years, before being transferred to Tanzania, where he served in the House of Formation for three years, and later worked in France, where he again served in the House of Formation.

Most Rev. Richard Kuuia Baawobr is currently in charge of Inter-Religious Dialogue on promoting understanding between Christians and Muslims, Ecumenism-Dialogue with other Christian churches, and also in charge of the Clergy. According to Managing Editor of the Catholic Standard in Ghana, Ben Assorow, this last competence of Bishop Baawobr is seen as a critical factor in his appointment considering that Pope Francis is himself a champion of inter-religious tolerance.

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Many also see the election of the Wa Diocese's Bishop to the cardinalate as a renewed interest by the Vatican for the growth of the church in rural parts of the country. So, in the nutshell, the influence of the Catholic Church in Ghana at the Vatican has been increased by one more cardinal.

When cardinal-elect Baawobr is officially installed on August 27, 2022, at a ceremony known as a consistory, he would be among the some 82 of 132 cardinal electors appointed by Pope Francis since heading the Papal See. Many believe the makeup of the current cardinals being appointed by the Pope is a strong indication that his successor will reflect his positions on key issues.

Source: YEN.com.gh

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