Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson has dismissed reports suggesting he resigned from the key Vatican department last year.
According to him, he only sent a notification to the Pope to inform him his term had ended, to enable the pope to take a decision.
Speaking in an Interview with Asaase.com, Cardinal Turkson said, “If you wanted to put it more bluntly, we’ll probably say that within the church in our circus, the saying is that: nobody goes up the cross and then descends from the cross. Jesus didn’t go to the cross and then decided to come off the cross, so when you engage in the service of the church I think you go all the way …
“What it is, is a very simple thing; I don’t know why it made such rounds around the world and generated all the discussions. Here in the Vatican, every position is given for five years and at the end of the five years, either the term is extended, renewed or one is reassigned to some other position. I left Ghana in 2010 that means I have been here [for] eleven years which means I’ve done two terms of five years…”.
He added that he had served over 10 years and the procedure requires that he notifies the Pope to make a determination as to whether or not we would extend his work or reassign him.
He added, “I’ve met this experience before, at the end of the set of five years, my mandate was slightly modified and extended. When I came here, I was to take charge of an office called Justice and Peace, at the end of five years it had a merger. Three other offices were joined with our office and that became the second set of five years and this happened in August 2016. So 2021 is the end of the second set of five years. So at the end of all of these years, you notified the Pope that your five years is up to enable him to take a decision.
“So this is what happened last year, the Pope decided to reassign and…have you move on and that’s just what happened; you have to notify the Pope that your five years are up and doing that it’s not resignation, it’s just a notification,” he said.
He however added that he was not worried about the reports circulating about his perceived resignation, though he tweeted to make things clear. “Over here in the Italian language, we say that: you put your mandate back to his hands for him to reassign, extend, modify or do what he wants to do with it. So that’s just what happened. Why this was seen and interpreted as resignation beats my imagination and as a result of that, I tweeted to explain all of this but people took things the way they wanted to take it. There was nothing to get upset or get worried about,” he said.
Cardinal Appiah Turkson headed the Dicastery for Integral Human Development which was formed in 2016 to amalgamate four offices that dealt with issues such as peace, justice, migration, and charities.
His eventual departure will leave no African heading any large Vatican department as his fellow African, Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, who was the head of the Congregation for Worship at the Vatican, went into retirement earlier this year.
The department headed by Cardinal Appiah Turkson was in recent times subjected to an external review, headed by Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago at the behest of Pope Francis.