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Ghanaian Cardinal Urges COVID-19 Vaccination, Describes Jabs as “scientifically wholesome”

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

The Vatican-based Ghanaian Cardinal has encouraged the people of God in his native country to get vaccinated against COVID-19 saying the jabs are “scientifically wholesome.”

“Scientifically, the vaccines are protecting people against COVID. We’ve trusted science and research in several other areas. The tools we use and the medication we use among others are all the fruits of research and science. So, let’s not develop distrust of the vaccines,” Peter Cardinal Turkson has been quoted as saying in the Wednesday, January 12 report.

Cardinal Turkson who was a guest on Asaase Radio’s “Night with Kwaku Sakyi-Addo” program added, “We can be rest assured about the vaccine's safety and security and they are the most effective treatment or way of dealing with the disease.”

“We’ll recommend the use of it. The thing is to stay alive first and then we look at the issues that flow from that,” the Ghanaian Cardinal said during the January 12 radio interview.

Ghana has recorded at least 152,729 COVID-19 cases, 1,336 related deaths and 140,504 recoveries.

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Less than 10 percent of Ghana's population is currently vaccinated, partly because of a lack of vaccines in the country until recently, BBC News had reported.

In the January 12 radio interview, Cardinal Turkson also revisited his recent retirement as Prefect of the Vatican-based Dicastery for Promoting of Integral Human Development.

“I don’t know why it made such rounds around the world and generated all the discussion. Here in the Vatican, every position is given for five years and at the end of the five years, either the term is extended or renewed, or one is reassigned to some other position,” the Cardinal who had served as President of the then Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace from 24 October 2009 said.

He further recalled the many fruitful years he spent in Rome saying, “I left Ghana in 2010. That means I have been here [for] 11 years, which means I’ve done two terms of five years …”

He added, “I’ve met this experience before. At the end of the set of five years, my mandate was slightly modified and extended. When I came here, I was to take charge of an office called Justice and Peace. At the end of five years it had a merger. Three other offices were joined with our office and that became the second set of five years.”

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“This happened in August 2016. So, 2021 is the end of the second set of five years. So, at the end of all of these years, you notified the Pope that your five years is up to enable him to take a decision,” the 73-year-old Cardinal said.

On December 23, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Turkson as Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

He named the 75-year-old Canadian Jesuit Cardinal Michael Czerny as the interim head of the dicastery pending the appointment of “new leadership.”

In the January 12 interview with Asaase Radio, Cardinal Turkson said, “The Pope decided to reassign and … have you move on, and that’s just what happened. You have to notify the Pope that your five years are up, and doing that is not resignation; it’s just a notification.”

“Over here in the Italian language, we say that you put your mandate back to his hands for him to reassign, extend, modify or do what he wants to do with it. So that’s just what happened,” he further clarified. 

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He continued, “Why this was seen and interpreted as resignation beats my imagination and as a result of that, I tweeted to explain all of this. But people took things the way they wanted to take it. There was nothing to get upset or get worried about.”