ROME, SEPT. 28, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II’s list of new cardinals includes the first one ever for Ghana.
“God must have a faster timetable than mine,” said the 54-year-old Archbishop Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Cape Coast, when he heard that the Pope named him to be a cardinal.
He recalled that in 1992, when he was working on his doctorate, the Pope named him as the archbishop of Cape Coast in the west African nation. He was consecrated on March 27, 1993.
Four years later, though one of the youngest prelates, he was elected by his colleagues as president of the Ghana bishops’ conference.
“Now this morning, here I am being given this news, and the only thing I can do is to say, ‘Lord, have your way with me. Give me the ear and heart to go the way you want,’ ” he said.
Cardinal-designate Turkson said the elevation would be the “recognition of the sacrifices of the early missionaries, the evangelizing zeal of the clergy and the laity of the Church, past and present, and what all Catholics and believers in Ghana are doing to make God’s Kingdom present in our land and in our world.”
“In recognition of these manifold reasons for this [elevation] which I must represent in my person and apostolate, I pray that I may be found a faithful servant in God’s household, like Moses,” he added.
Cardinal-designate Turkson is a member of several Vatican bodies: the Methodist Catholic Dialogue (since 1997), the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (since 2002) and the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Goods of the Church (since 2002).
He is the treasurer of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), which is the continental body of bishops’ conferences in Africa.
In Ghana, he is the chancellor of the Catholic University College of Ghana. He is also a member of the University Council of the University of Ghana, Legon; the National Sustainable Development Council of the Ministry of Environment; the board of directors of the Central Regional Development Committee; and the board of trustees of the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem Educational Fund.
After studies at the St. Teresa’s Minor Seminary at Amisano and the St. Peter’s Regional Seminary at Pedu, he was ordained as priest in July 1975 by Archbishop John Kodwo Amissah, whom he succeeded.
He did a licentiate at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome from 1976 to 1980, and then from 1987 to 1992, he studied for the doctorate degree at the same institute.
In addition to English and his native Fante, he also speaks French, Italian, German and Hebrew fluently, and has written knowledge of Latin and Greek.
The Cape Coast Archdiocese, which he heads, is the oldest in Ghana. The Catholic faith arrived at Elmina in 1482.
This initial mission died off, until 1880 when Father Auguste Moreau and Eugene Murat, both of the Society of African Missions, reintroduced the faith.