Leading African Cardinal Quits Vatican, What's Up?

Leading African Cardinal Quits Vatican, What's Up?

Cardinal Peter Turkson, who is tipped to become the first African pope in 1,500 years, suddenly tendered his resignation from a key Vatican department, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Saturday, December 18, 2021.

Turkson, 73, from Ghana, has been Pope Francis' top adviser on issues such as climate change and social justice, and is the only African to head a Vatican department.

According to a Vatican source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the pope has not yet decided whether to accept the resignation.

Turkson heads the large Vatican department known as the Dicastery for Integral Human Development. The section was created in 2016 to combine four offices dealing with issues such as peace, justice, migration and charity.

One source said Turkson, who is about two years before the bishop's retirement age, had become "fed up" with the internal strife.

Another source said Turkson had told his staff he would say more once the pope made a decision.

His departure will leave the Vatican without an African to head the main department, following the retirement of Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea earlier this year.

The Turkson Department underwent an external review led by Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago at the pope's request earlier this year.

His offer to resign followed two high-level departures from the department over the summer, one due to retirement and the other sudden and unexplained.

The Catholic Church had several popes of north African origin early in its history, the last in the 5th century.

Even if he leaves his post at the Vatican, until he turns 80, Turkson is still eligible to enter the conclave of cardinals to elect the next pope after Francis dies or retires, according to Church rules.

Peter Turkson's decision to submit a letter of resignation was first reported by the conservative Italian blog messainlatino.it.