Since Pope Benedict XVI gave three weeks’ notice, there has been a lot of speculation about who the next pope will be. One of the major front-runners is Cardinal Peter Turkson, a 64 year old Ghanaian clergyman who was made a cardinal in 2003 by Pope John Paul II and currently serves as the President of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace. Being ecstatic about having a West African become the next pope and oversee its one billion-strong members, I decided to find out more about this cardinal.
In a passage dealing with false prophets, the book of Matthew says in 7:20 that “by their works, we shall know them.” To put it mildly, some of “the works” of Cardinal Turkson give me serious pause. Here are 5 of them:
1. He’s strongly anti-gay and has defended African anti-gay laws on the basis of “culture”. He also believes more work should be put into finding out why many African countries advocate long prison sentences and in some cases, the death penalty, rather than trying to get this laws repealed.
2. He has also criticized the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who has called out to many African countries to decriminalize homosexuality. He thinks all Catholic bishops should come together to put up a united anti-gay front.
3. He supports Uganda’s “Kill the gays bill” which advocates death sentences for anyone found guilty of “aggravated” homosexuality. He does admit that the “penalties imposed by such laws are exaggerated” (Thanks Manny for the clarification).
4. He does not support condom use and believes “abstinence” and “fidelity” are the only solutions. He feels condoms give “people a false sense of security” and is “rather helping the disease (HIV/AIDS) spread”.
5. During an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the issue of same-sex marriage was raised to which he responded:”We need to find ways of dealing with the challenges coming up from society and culture”. He also believes the Catholic Church must “evangelize,” or convert, those with “alternative lifestyles, trends or gender issues.”
I hate to say that Clare Flourish told me so but it appears we may be getting a younger, more energetic pope who is far more homophobic that the last one.
Change may not always be a good thing.
More on this on the Huffington Post.