The surprise resignation may reopen rifts within the church as pressure builds to name a pope from the developing world where Catholicism is growing, offsetting declines in Europe and the U.S. Ghanian Cardinal Peter Turkson is the favorite to become pope after Benedict XVI resigns at the end of the month.
Nigeria’s Francis Arinze, 80 is slowly approaching an elderly age, but seems to be in the running.
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Turkson has said that “if God would wish to see a black man also as pope, thanks be to God.” The Catholic Church chronicler Rocco Palmo called Turkson the lone Scripture scholar in the Pope’s “Senate” and believes that his status as a potential “papabile” has been elevated due to his appointment as spokesman for Second Synod for Africa in 2009.
On October 1992, Turkson was appointed Archbishop of Cape Coast by Pope John Paul II. And created him Cardinal-Priest of S. Liborio in his last consistory of October 2003. Turkson is the first Ghanaian cardinal, and was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave, which selected Pope Benedict XVI.
Turkson was asked whether he thought the time was right for a black Pope, especially in light of President Barack Obama’s 2008 election. “Why not?” Turkson replied. He argued that every man who agrees to be ordained a priest has to be willing to be a Pope, and is given training along the way as bishop and cardinal. ‘
In Catholic history there is much that says that there were Black popes before. According to the Liber Pontificalis, three popes-Pope St Victor I (ca186-198), Pope St Miltiades (311-14), and Pope St Gelasius (492-496)-were Africans. The Liber Pontificalis is composed of a series of biographical entries, which record the dates and important facts for each pope. It is the oldest and most detailed chronicle dating from the Early Church. The Liber Pontificalis is dated from the sixth century. The record of names begins with St Peter. As the work progressed the entries became longer and more detailed. The Liber Pontificalis continued to be written until 143.