Vatican City - Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson of Ghana, one
of two Africans considered eligible to replace retiring Pope Benedict XVI, says
the world may be ready for an African pope.
"Let God's will be done," Turkson told the Rome
daily Il Messaggero in an interview published Wednesday.
"The Church has followers everywhere," said the
64-year-old prelate who heads the Vatican's justice and peace department.
"Africa certainly is an important continent for
Catholicism, but so is Asia for example," he added. "The Church is
synonymous with universality... God's will should be done."
Turkson is considered progressive by supporters, but some
say his decision to show a recent meeting of bishops a video criticising
Muslims has damaged his chances.
Other Africans tipped are Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of the
Democratic Republic of Congo, the 74-year-old Archbishop of Kinshasa, and
Nigerian John Onaiyekan, 69, the Abuja archbishop.
Cardinal Francis Arinze, also from Nigeria, was considered a
possibility when Benedict was elected, but he is now 80 and out of the running.
Onaiyekan, nominated as a cardinal in October, has made
efforts to foster unity between Christians and Muslims in his country.
The 2 000-year-old Church has had three previous popes from
Africa, the last dating from the fifth century when the Roman Empire included
the northern part of the continent.
They were Victor I at the end of the second century, Miltiades
(311-314) and Gelasius I, a pope of Berber origin who ruled from 492-496.
Benedict visited Africa twice, most recently the west
African nation of Benin in 2011, and before that Angola and Cameroon in 2009.
The pope sparked a furore with his first trip when he saids
distributing condoms in the fight against AIDS "can aggravate the
His Benin visit came 150 years after what missionaries
consider the evangelisation of the country.