Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, thought to be the favorite to take over for Pope Benedict XVI when he retires at the end of the month, created somewhat of an uproar with comments he made during an interview last week with CNN.
Turkson, who would be the first black pope if he were to end up getting the position, was answering a question from Christiane Amanpour about the chances of the Catholic Church’s sex scandal spreading to Africa when he made this controversial statement:
“African traditional systems kind of protect, or have protected, its population against this tendency,” he said. “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 Gawker, Turkson thinks that the issue isn't Church-wide cover ups of the sex scandal or a systematic problem within the Church itself. Instead, Turkson believes that all of the sexual abuse happened because there were too many gay priests in North America and Europe.
CNN isn’t so sure. As the network noted in its post about the interview, “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.
Ruth Hunt, the director of public affairs at Stonewall UK, an LGBT charity, was also critical of Turkson’s statement. “Cardinal Turkson's comments show a surprisingly callous disregard for the human rights of millions of people worldwide,” she said.