Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who is thought to be a favorite in the running as pontiff once Pope Benedict XVI leaves the Chair of St Peter at the end of the month, spoke on the issue of homosexuality within the Catholic priesthood during an interview on CNN. Cardinal Turkson, who would be the first known black pope if he were to be elected, spoke to veteran reporter Christiane Amanpour about the effect of the Church's ongoing sex scandals in Africa, a continent where the Catholic Church continues to grow.
“African traditional systems kind of protect, or have protected, its population against this tendency,” said Cardinal Turkson. “Because in several communities, in several cultures in Africa, homosexuality, or for that matter any affair between two sexes of the same kind, are not countenanced in our society.”
According to the Gawker website, Cardinal Turkson thinks that the cause of the scandal stems from a surfeit of homosexual priests in North America and Europe, rather than the widely reported Church-wide cover ups of the sex scandal or a systematic problem within the Church itself.
However, according to the American Psychological Association, "homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are.’”
“We hear less about clergy sex crimes and cover ups in Africa for the same reasons we do throughout the developing world - there tends to be lesser funding for law enforcement, less vigorous civil justice systems, less independent journalism, and an even greater power and wealth difference between church officials and their congregants,” said a spokesman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
Ruth Hunt, the director of public affairs at Stonewall UK, an LGBT charity, criticized the prelate, saying "Cardinal Turkson's comments show a surprisingly callous disregard for the human rights of millions of people worldwide.”
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.