British bookmakers have named Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson as among the five favourites to take over from Pope Benedict XVI after he resigns at the end of the month.

Cardinal Peter Turkson has been considered a possible future candidate for the papacy since Benedict XVI appointed him as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 2009 amid speculation that the next Pope would be from Africa or Latin America as part of the Catholic Church’s efforts towards modernisation.

Turkson was appointed Archbishop of Cape Coast by Pope John Paul II in 1992 and served as the president of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference from 1997 to 2005. In 2003 he became the first ever Ghanaian cardinal.

This week Pope Benedict announced that he would resign on 28 February, which is two months before his 86 th birthday, after serving for almost eight years. The abdication, which is said to be for health reasons, is the first by a leader of the Roman Catholic Church in almost 600 years.

Also in the running to be the next Pope are Canada’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet (68), Nigeria’s Cardinal Francis Arinze (80), Argentina’s Cardinal Leonardo Sandri (69), and Italy’s Angelo Scola who is currently archbishop of Milan.

A conclave of the church’s cardinals will be called in Rome to select a new Pope in March.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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