Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson was born on 11th October, 1948 in Wassaw Nsuta, a small mining town in the Western Region. He comes from a humble family background and his parents had nine children apart from him. His mother was a Methodist while his father was a Roman Catholic.
He began his education in small village of Amisano and Pedu. He studied at the St. Teresa’s Seminary. Cardinal Turkson continued his graduation in Theology from St. Anthony Hudson Seminary in Renssealer, New York, in the United States of America (USA). He earned his Master of Theology from this Seminary. He also completed a summer course at the Albany University. On 20th July, 1975, Archbishop John Amissah ordained him to the priesthood.
In 1987, he began his doctoral studies in Sacred Studies from the Pontifical Biblical Institute. However, after being appointed as the Archbishop of Cape Coast, he could not complete his thesis.
Cardinal Appiah Turkson is a Senior Ecclesiastical Leader and the first Ghanaian Priest Cardinal to serve the Roman Catholic Church. Before his elevation to Cardinalship by Pope John Paul II, he was the Archbishop of Cape Coast, Central Region.
He received his first episcopal consecration in this post. He has also served as the cardinal priest of San Liborio and was elevated to papacy by Pope Benedict XVI.
He started his career as a professor of Sacred Scripture in St Teresa’s Seminary. From there, he went to the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, Italy, where he earned a licentiate in Sacred Scriptures. Being highly knowledgeable in Biblical scriptures and theology, he was appointed as the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Ghana. He also served as the Chancellor of Ghana’s Catholic University College.
A few years ago, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCFP). Throughout his career, Cardinal Appiah Turkson has been a member of several Vatican bodies and has served the Methodic Catholic Dialogue and the Pontifical Commission for Cultural Patrimony. In an attempt to reform the global financial system, Cardinal Appiah Turkson came out with a proposal for establishing a ‘global public authority’ and a ‘central world bank.’
He was appointed as the Archbishop of Cape Coast on 6th October, 1992 by Pope John Paul II.
In 1993, Archbishop Dominic Kodwo Andoh ordained him his first episcopal consecration.
In 1997, his fellow bishops appointed him as the president of the Ghanaian Catholic Bishops’ Conference. During this time, he was one of the youngest bishops to become the president.
From 2001–2006, Cardinal Appiah Turkson was a member of the University Council of Ghana. In the same period, he was also a member of directors’ board of the Central Development Commission.
From 2007–2009, he was appointed as the treasurer of the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar. This symposium is considered to be a continental body of the bishops’ conference that takes place in Africa. During this time, he was also appointed as the president of the West African Episcopal Conference.
In 2010, he became a member of the Pontifical Council for Global Eucharistic Congress. In the same year, owing to his huge popularity, he was made a member of the Doctrine of Faith Congregation by Pope Benedict.
In 2011, Cardinal Appiah Turkson was sent as a Vatican mediator to come up with a diplomatic and non-violent solution to the deadly conflict in Ivory Coast. In the same year, he called for the establishment of a new ‘global public authority’ and a ‘central world bank’ for ruling over those financial units that were ineffective and that did not have ample resources to deal with severe monetary crisis.
On 24th October, 2009 Cardinal Appiah Turkson was appointed as the Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. As a cardinal, he is responsible for electing a new pope after the death or abdication of the existing pope. He is also responsible for forming the Roman Curia and presiding over the church congregations.
Cardinal Appiah Turkson was awarded the ‘Order of Star,’ a national honour of Ghanaian Republic. He was honoured with the ‘Order of Rock’ by the Anomabo Traditional Area in the Central Region.
He is proficient in multiple languages. Apart from being proficient in English and his mother tongue, Fante, he is also fluent in French, German, Hebrew and Italian.