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African Papal Contender Wants Change

Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson
AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis

One of Africa's brightest hopes to be the next pope, Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, says the time is right for a pontiff from the developing world, and that he's up for the job "if it's the will of God."

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, the day after Pope Benedict XVI announced he would soon resign, Turkson said the "young churches" of Africa and Asia have now become solid enough that they have produced "mature clergymen and prelates that are capable of exercising leadership also of this world institution."

The church in the Third World doesn't need a pope of its own to thrive, he said. It's done just fine growing exponentially with European pontiffs. But Turkson said a pope from the global south, where half of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics live, would "go a long way to strengthen them in their resolve."

Turkson, 64, became Ghana's first cardinal when he was elevated by Pope John Paul II in 2003, while he was archbishop of Cape Coast. Six years later, Benedict tapped him to head the Vatican's peace and justice office, which tackles issues such as the global financial meltdown, armed conflicts and ethical codes for the business world.

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