African papal contender wants change, pontiff from the developing world

By Nicole Winfield

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 12 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

Already, a handful of Vatican offices, aside from his own, are headed by prelates from the developing world: Another papal contender, Brazilian Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, 65, heads the Vatican's office for religious congregations, while Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, 69, heads the Vatican's office for Eastern rite churches.

"Although the majority is still Italian or European, we still have a growing number of Africans and people from Asia and Latin America in the Roman Curia," Turkson said. "If we're talking specifically about the pope himself, I don't think we're too far away from that, either."

He laughs when asked about speculation that he himself is a contender.

"I've always answered 'if it's the will of God,'" he said. But turning serious, he said the job is difficult, and few would look for it willingly. And he may be running the risk of jinxing himself, following the conventional wisdom that he who enters a conclave a pope leaves a cardinal.

"Being the pope of the church is not going to be an easy task," given the challenges ahead. Prime among them, he said, is restoring the church's credibility, crushed after the clerical sex abuse scandal which drove away thousands of faithful.

"We need to repair our credibility," Turkson said. "Our pastors need to be believed in again and recognized and taken seriously. If we say we are celibate clergy, we need to live faithfully to that celibacy. There's one thing we can't compromise on and that's our credibility."

Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield

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