Pope Francis Accepts Cardinal Turkson’s Resignation

As reported earlier, rumours about the resignation of Cardinal Turkson have turned out to be accurate.

Newsroom (28/12/2021 7:45 PM, Gaudium Press) Pope Francis, on Thursday, Dec. 23, accepted the resignation of Cardinal Peter Turkson as prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He named the 75-year-old Canadian Jesuit Cardinal Michael Czerny as the interim head of the dicastery pending the appointment of “new leadership.”

After rumours began to circulate last week, Turkson confirmed via Twitter on Sunday that he had submitted his letter of resignation to Pope Francis, telling journalists Tuesday that it was simply a matter of his 5-year term coming to an end.

In their Dec. 23 noontime bulletin, the Vatican announced Pope Francis’s decision to accept Turkson’s resignation, citing the end of the term limit and a formal evaluation of the department over the summer as the primary reasons.

In their statement, Vatican sources noted that “In August 2016, Pope Francis announced the creation of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development as a result of the merger of four pre-existing pontifical councils. The new dicastery began to operate in January 2017.”

“At the end of the first five years of activity with statutes ad experimentum and following the results of the evaluation visitation carried out this past summer, the superiors of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development placed their mandates in the hands of the Holy Father,” the statement said.

“While sincerely thanking Card. Peter K. Appiah Turkson and his collaborators for their service and while awaiting the appointment of the new leadership, the Holy Father has entrusted ad interim the ordinary management of the same dicastery as of Jan. 1, 2022, to Card. Michael Czerny, S.J., as prefect and to Sister Alessandra Smerilli, F.M.A., as secretary,” the statement continued.

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Czerny, born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1946, has served as Under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the dicastery since 2017. He received the cardinal’s red hat in October 2019.

Pope Francis named Smerilli, an Italian economist and member of the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco, as the dicastery’s interim secretary in August.

Following the resignation of Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship in February, Turkson was the only African leading a Vatican department.

It is believed to be the first time since 1977 that the Vatican has had no African leaders among the heads of its ​dicasteries.

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