The other day I heard someone quoted in connection with the Supreme Court debate over the Voting Rights Act. This person was complaining that America's racial problems had been coming along very well until Barack Obama was elected, and then all hell broke loose.
Well, duh. As long as those tiresome African-Americans know their place there won't be too many lynchings, I guess. But when a black man has the temerity to run for President--and get elected, to add insult to injury--twice!--it's time for Congress to put him back in that place...which he was supposed to know, we all thought he did, but look what happened!
And so America exploded into filthy invective against the President, the conservatives threw all their patriotism out the window and went into the sedition mode, and now that they have painted themselves into a corner, the Catholic Church is now contemplating whether a new page will be turned in the racial dynamics of the United States how would a black Pope go over, do you think?
An interesting thing that happened after President Obama was elected was the short-lived tenure of Michael Steele as head of the Republican Party. Interestingly, he was quite effective in getting Republican candidates elected, but he was ousted by conservatives. The whole choice of Steele seemed to me to be a me-too, copycat choice of a token black man, which quickly soured regardless of how well he did his job.
Since his ouster Steele has become a consultant to MSNBC, where I am forced to put up with his spineless parroting of Republican talking points. He will defend almost everything they say and do, which was exactly what got him his high-profile token gig. But he sometimes has a hard time with some of the MSNBC liberal program hosts like Chris Matthews, who objects to lies no matter who tells them. Other hosts like Lawrence O'Donnell don't invite him often, if at all.
So now there is another copycat possibility, which has arisen in the Catholic Church as the Cardinals gather in their conclave to elect a new Pope. One of the leading contenders is also one of the notorious African Bishops--although he is of course a Cardinal--who have bloodied their pretty robes with genocide against Muslims, as in the horrifying example of Archbishop Peter Akinola, who is a war criminal directly responsible for the murder of men, women, children and unborn babies.
But Akinola is an Anglican; the Vatican contender is Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, who was born in Ghana. According to Wikipedia, Turkson was "born 11 October 1948 (and) is a Ghanaian cardinal of the Catholic Church. He is the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on 24 October 2009. He had served as Archbishop of Cape Coast. He was elevated to the cardinalate by Pope John Paul II in 2003 and is widely regarded as papabile."
The word papabile refers to his suitability to serve as Pope, and Turkson is regarded as a man who could conceivably fill that role. This possibility has prompted some evangelical websites to go for the nuclear option of predicting that he will be the last Pope, the Antichrist and that his election will bring on the Apocalypse.
In making these predictions they are ignoring the biblical prediction that the Antichrist will be European, whereas Turkson was born in Ghana. But biblical fundamentalists don't let the facts get in the way when there is a racial issue; the possibility of a black Pope must seem overwhelming to the Doomsday preppers who never even came to the realization that Obama is indeed the President.
What are the implications, if any, of Turkson's election to the exalted office of Pontiff? First I must say that those who are in the know do not believe that this will happen. Yet there is a rumbling among the faithful that a new spirit, a spirit of reform, ought to animate the upcoming decision about who will lead the world's Catholics into the future.
Well, in my opinion, Turkson would be a disaster. His positions are completely typical of the African contingent of clerics who absolutely refuse to move beyond their tribal morality. No matter what is written about him, consider the following, again from Wikipedia:
"In 2009, [Turkson] reaffirmed the Catholic social teaching on contraception, in regard to statements made by Pope Benedict XVI that condoms were not a solution to Africa’s AIDS crisis and were taken out of context by the media. Turkson did not rule out condoms in all circumstances, although he warns that, as the quality of condoms in Africa is poor, their use could engender false confidence. He said abstinence, fidelity, and refraining from sex if infected were the key to fighting the epidemic. He also believes that the money being spent on condoms would be better spent providing anti-retroviral drugs to those already infected."
Condoms are not a solution; so Turkson has no wish to make any effort to impede the spread of HIV/AIDS through the only option that would be widely available in Africa. He thinks that he can somehow compel Africans, Catholic or not, to adopt Catholic teachings, including repurposing the money intended to make an attempt at slowing down the progress of HIV/AIDS towards those already infected.
Turkson has something to say about homosexuality:
"In 2012, in response to a speech by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging church leaders to do more for human rights and in particular LGBT rights in Africa, Turkson, while recognizing that some of the sanctions imposed on homosexuals in Africa are an exaggeration, stated that the intensity of the reaction is probably commensurate with tradition. 'Just as there’s a sense of a call for rights, there’s also a call to respect culture, of all kinds of people,' he said. 'So, if it’s being stigmatized, in fairness, it’s probably right to find out why it is being stigmatized.' He also called for distinction to be made between human rights and moral issues.'"
So we are to respect the cultures that are passing legislation (egged on by American evangelicals) such as Uganda's "kill the gays" bill. Moral issues have little or nothing to do with human rights. Certain people don't have human rights, that's what I am getting out of his statement, and we need to respect that because he understands the culture (and we don't?). We don't "recognize" that the antipathy towards LGBT Africans is "an exaggeration," so pay no attention to that Ugandan bill.
So far I confess that I am not surprised. Where is Turkson coming from on the gargantuan sex-abuse scandal that has rocked the world and possibly provided the reason why Pope Benedict retired?
"In February 2013, Turkson stated in an interview that he believes that the Catholic child sex scandals would not spread to Africa in significant proportions. He claimed that 'African traditional systems...have protected its population against this tendency,' and went on to say that in several cultures in Africa homosexuality or for that matter any affair between two sexes of the same kind are not countenanced."
Any affair between two sexes of the same kind? I think he means to include the whole LGBT community under this umbrella, and that their affairs are not countenanced in Africa, where there is little danger that child sexual abuse will become an issue. Apparently Turkson is unaware of the African priest scandal, which was reported to the Vatican and covered by the National Catholic Reporter online, which said in part:
"In November 1998, a four-page paper titled 'The Problem of the Sexual Abuse of African Religious in Africa and Rome' was presented by Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa Sr. Marie McDonald, the report’s author, to the Council of 16, a group that meets three times a year. The council is made up of delegates from three bodies: the Union of Superiors General, an association of men’s religious communities based in Rome, the International Union of Superiors General, a comparable group for women, and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Vatican office that oversees religious life."
Among other things, it was reported that:
"The reports allege that some Catholic clergy exploit their financial and spiritual authority to gain sexual favors from religious women, many of whom, in developing countries, are culturally conditioned to be subservient to men. The reports obtained by NCR -- some recent, some in circulation at least seven years -- say priests at times demand sex in exchange for favors, such as permission or certification to work in a given diocese. The reports, five in all, indicate that in Africa particularly, a continent ravaged by HIV and AIDS, young nuns are sometimes seen as safe targets of sexual activity. In a few extreme instances, according to the documentation, priests have impregnated nuns and then encouraged them to have abortions."
I don't have space to go into detail, but you can read the NCR report by following the link below.
Cardinal Turkson is in total denial of the most crucial problems that will affect the future of Catholicism; the fact that he is a possible Pope leads me to predict that if he is elected, it will be the end of tolerance for gay Catholics and a re-commitment to the most reactionary dogma that has been causing Catholics in general to leave the Church. You might want to follow the conclave, and if you are Catholic you can send email to the American members of the electing Cardinals and express your feelings about Turkson. And of course if he seems like the ideal candidate, you can express that, too.
Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church Welcomes You.
FOR MORE INFO: read the NCR article here: http://natcath.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2001a/031601/031601a.htm