African Cardinal Views the Vocation Shortage

With Full Seminaries, Ghana Shares Its Wealth

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 19, 2005 ( A Ghanaian cardinal expressed his willingness to share priests with countries suffering from a shortage of vocations, as an act of thanksgiving for the missionaries who evangelized his lands.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, archbishop of Cape Coast, spoke of dioceses such as his own, which has a full seminary — more than 400 candidates for the priesthood.

He revealed that his country is already sending priests to Canada, the United States, Germany and the Netherlands.

The 57-year-old cardinal took part in a meeting with journalists Tuesday in the Vatican press office. He was accompanied by a spokesman from the Synod of Bishops.

The cardinal warned that, when it comes to placing priests in dioceses in need of them, «one must take into account cultural differences, which might be a problem.»

As a solution to the problem, he gave the example of the U.S. bishops, who are preparing a reception center for foreign priests, in which they will learn the culture and customs of the country.

Lessons from Europe

Asked if Ghana had more priests than it needed, the cardinal answered: «No, we do not have more than we need. … It has never happened in the history of the Church, but we share what we already have.»

«It’s just a way of reciprocating,» he added, recalling the missionaries who evangelized Africa.

Cardinal Turkson continued: «We need to learn a lesson from Europe. Europe had a lot of vocations, but what went wrong in Europe? We should learn from all of this and try to avoid the same type of mistakes.»

The Ghanaian prelate added that «we’ve got a good number of priests,» but this does not mean that all have the desired formation.

«The biggest problem is the formation of priests,» he said. «If we did not take it seriously, their formation would be very mediocre.»

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