Vatican City, Dec 21, 2021 / 06:15 am (CNA).
Cardinal Peter Turkson told journalists on Tuesday that Pope Francis will decide whether he continues to lead the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
Speaking at a Vatican press conference on Dec. 21, the Ghanaian cardinal confirmed that his five-year term is expiring and he is awaiting the pope’s decision on his future.
“If the Holy Father decides to have me continue, that’s what it is. If he decides to reassign me, that’s what it is,” he said.
“All of us come here to serve and support the Holy Father in his ministry, and that’s what it is. So your question, then, probably is just that, whether I’ll be here next year. We just wait for the Holy Father to see what he wants us to do.”
Turkson was speaking at the launch of Pope Francis’ 2022 World Peace Day message following rumors that he had resigned as head of the dicastery created in 2016.
He first commented on the reports on his Twitter account on Dec. 19, saying that he was awaiting a “new action” of the pope.
InVatican mandates of Office-Heads expire at death/resignation of Pope or expiry of 5yr term of office. One surrenders mandate for Pope/new Pope to renew/extend mandate or reassign. Turkson surrendered in 2013 Francis renewed 5yr mandate in 2016. Now must awaitnew action of Pope!
— Card Peter K. Turkson (@CardinalTurkson) December 19, 2021
“But it’s simply this. I suppose all of you journalists, especially accredited to the Holy See, know this very well, that all assignments, appointments, in the Holy See have five years limit, and when five years are up, then it’s just expected that we place our mandate back in the hands of the Holy Father and wait whether he confirms, reassigns, or prolongs the appointment.”
The 73-year-old cardinal served as the archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, before he was called to Rome in 2009 to be president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Turkson, who speaks six languages, became the first president of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in 2016 after his pontifical council was merged into the new body along with three others.
The rumors of his resignation appeared a few months after Pope Francis ordered an inspection of the dicastery that was followed by personnel changes.
Following the resignation of Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship in February, Turkson is the only African leading a Vatican department.
“This is my 11th year and I’ve done this twice,” Turkson told reporters, referring to serving two five-year terms at the Vatican.
He noted that earlier this year, the pope had renewed his membership of several Vatican bodies, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
“Five years expire and you just have to wait for renewal or reassignment, and that’s just what it is,” he said.
“So five years are up again. I became the head of this dicastery in 2016. This is 2021, five years. So we just have to follow the procedure … I await the Holy Father’s own disposition.”
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