Is this man the next Pope?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Is this man the next Pope?
Cardinal Peter Turkson

He is a TV star with a wicked sense of humour and a "human touch" — and now Cardinal Peter Turkson is hot favourite to become the next pope.

The Ghanaian cardinal has emerged as the frontrunner in the race to succeed Benedict XVI, who resigned yesterday, shocking the Catholic world.

The cardinals will meet in March for the papal conclave, the process by which a new leader is elected, and experts predict Turkson will be voted into the top job by his fellow cardinals.

If elected, Turkson would be the first black pope, and the first non-European one. At 64, he would also be one of the youngest in recent years.

Turkson, who is president of the Vatican's pontifical council for justice and peace, became Ghana's first cardinal in 2003.

He has been an ordained priest for nearly 40 years and was appointed archbishop of Cape Coast in 1992.

Turkson is known for his "human touch" and is beloved throughout his diocese, thanks largely to his weekly religious TV broadcast.

"Cardinal Turkson is a wonderful person, very down to earth and humble, Reverend Stephen Domelevo from the Ghana Catholic Communications Office said.

"He lived in a simple way, and he was someone people felt very comfortable with. He is excellent at communicating scripture in a way that people really understand.

"He speaks many local languages — as well as European languages — and uses jokes and humour to really portray messages to people. He has that human touch.

"It would not surprise us in Ghana if he were to be the next pope. He has what it takes. It would really be a gift to the church."

Other cardinals in the running for the papacy are Quebec's Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Nigeria's Cardinal Francis Arinze and Italy's Cardinal Angelo Scola.

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