ROME – Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and a key papal advisor, said Sunday there’s a “temptation” to generalize when it comes to clerical sexual abuse, and while “we know there are bad priests … we also know very saintly priests.”
“We cannot throw away the linen with the dirty water,” Turkson said in an interview with Polish Television TVP1 that aired on Sunday. “We have to do something to recognize that there are bad priests, but there are also good ones.”
In addition, he said, it’s important to remember that the Church is “far bigger than any priest, bishop or pope who serves at a particular point in time. At the end of the day, it’s [about] Christ.”
Speaking about the Oct. 3-28 summit of bishops taking place in Rome, Turkson said there are “plenty” of challenges because it’s taking place “in the midst” of an abuse crisis, “and most of the victims, of whatever abuse, find themselves in this prime youthful age.”
The topic of this year’s Synod of Bishops is youth, faith and vocational discernment, and Turkson noted these include those who’ve been abused, “so the issue will be there.”
Yet, he said, what the synod set itself to do is to offer the Church’s help as young people discern, try to figure out what they want to do with their lives in such a way that it’s fulfilling for them and contributes to the well-being of society and the well-being of the Church.
At a different point in the interview, Turkson was also asked about World Youth Day (WYD), and he said that it’s possible it will soon be hosted in Africa: “It’s not only a dream—we’re talking about it.”
He said that there are places on the African continent that would be prepared to host this itinerant Vatican-sponsored event which will take place in Panama next January, and which took place in Krakow, Poland, in 2016.
Among the possible sites the cardinal listed are South Africa — which hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010 — the Kenyan capital Nairobi, or possibly Nigeria or Senegal in West Africa.
He told host Paulina Guzik that there are many challenges for a WYD in Africa, as it “calls for a lot of accommodation facilities, it calls for ease of movement and calls for security.”
“Parents sending their children [to WYD] must have the confidence that their children will come back safely, and also the challenges of health issues,” he said. “A few places can be prepared so that in the future, there can be a World Youth Day in Africa.”