Pope Francis Accepts Cardinal Turkson’s Resignation as Head of Vatican’s Social Development Office

The Holy See press office said on Dec. 23 that the dicastery’s leaders had left their mandates in the Pope’s hands following the end of their five-year terms, which began when the dicastery was created in 2016.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, in London, England, on March 14, 2011.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, in London, England, on March 14, 2011. (photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk.)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Thursday accepted the resignation of Cardinal Peter Turkson as prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

He named the Canadian Jesuit Cardinal Michael Czerny as the interim head of the dicastery pending the appointment of “new leadership.”

Cardinal Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the migrants and refugees section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. .  Pablo Esparza/CNA.

Cardinal Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the migrants and refugees section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. . Pablo Esparza/CNA.

The Holy See press office said on Dec. 23 that the dicastery’s leaders had left their mandates in the Pope’s hands following the end of their five-year terms, which began when the dicastery was created in 2016.

“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 Cardinal Michael Czerny, as prefect and to Sister Alessandra Smerilli, F.M.A., as secretary,” it said.

Czerny, who was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1946, has served as Under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the dicastery since 2017.

Pope Francis named Smerilli, an Italian economist and religious sister, as the dicastery’s interim secretary in August.

Sr. Alessandra Smerilli speaks at a press conference at the Vatican on July 7, 2020. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Sr. Alessandra Smerilli speaks at a press conference at the Vatican on July 7, 2020. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Cardinal Peter Turkson told journalists on Tuesday that the Pope would decide his future following the end of his five-year term.

“If the Holy Father decides to have me continue, that’s what it is. If he decides to reassign me, that’s what it is,” he said.

“All of us come here to serve and support the Holy Father in his ministry, and that’s what it is. So your question, then, probably is just that, whether I’ll be here next year. We just wait for the Holy Father to see what he wants us to do.”

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.

Ivan Aivazovsky, “Walking on Water,” ca. 1890

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