‘Holy Father to Decide My Assignment,’ Says Cardinal Turkson

His Five Years at the Head of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development Expire on January 1

Holy Father
Cardinal Turkson

Every decision is in the hands of the Holy Father. In the course of the press conference, for the presentation of Pope Francis’ Message for the 55th World Day of Peace, there could not be lacking a question on the future of Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development. Will he present again the Message of the 2023 Day?

The “Super-Dicastery” Headed by Turkson

 Over the last few days, the news has circulated repeatedly of the resignation of the Ghanaian Cardinal, for years the Pontiff’s right hand, who put him at the head of the super-Dicastery that is concerned with central aspects for the Church and Pope Francis’ magisterium in particular, including migrants, the needy, the sick, the excluded, victims of natural disasters and conflicts, the unemployed, victims of human trafficking of slavery and of torture. A Dicastery that since January 1, 2017, brings together the Pontifical Councils of Justice and Peace (which was headed in fact by Turkson), “Cor Unum,” of pastoral care for immigrants and pastoral care for health care workers — all of which have been suppressed. Hence, this coming January 1, the five years expire, foreseen for the duration of every mandate in the organizations of the Vatican Curia. Therefore, Cardinal Turkson has put his office in the hands of the Holy Father. “It’s for him to decide whether he will prolong it or end it,” explained the African Cardinal, who was among the eligible papal candidates of the Conclave that elected Bergoglio.

The Inspection

 The press’s indiscretions, which, moreover, are not confirmed, have insisted on alleged disagreements at the top of the Dicastery. In particular, among those that head the various merged sections,  following the reform launched in 2016 with the unification of various Councils. It should be recalled that, since the last month of June, an inspection was undertaken of the Dicastery’s activities, which was entrusted to the Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich. The Cardinal availed himself of a team of three Inspectors and has sent his conclusions to the Pope.

The Precedents

 Already in the past, the Pope did not confirm another Cardinal in his office, at the end of the five-year mandate: the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller. In other situations, he has also waited for the fulfillment of 80 years. This was the case (although for only one month) of Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, one of the collaborators of the drafting of Amors Laetitia. At that age, in fact, Cardinals not only lose the right to enter in the conclave but cease to hold any office in the Curia. So, it only remains to await the Pope’s decision regarding Cardinal Turkson.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester