ROME — Pope Francis has named Cardinal Peter Turkson the new chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, two groups of top-level scholars and experts who promote studies on issues of concern to the Vatican.

Turkson, a 73-year-old native of Ghana, had served a five-year term as prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development from its establishment in 2017 until Jan. 1. Prior to that, he was president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

At the pontifical academies, he succeeds Argentine Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, who will turn 80 in September and had been appointed chancellor in 1998 by St. John Paul II.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which includes Nobel Prize winners, professors and researchers, traces its roots to the 17th century and was founded in its current form by Pope Pius IX in 1847. With experts in fields as diverse as mathematics and biology, physics and philosophy, it promotes a multidisciplinary approach to its studies and discussions on issues such as biotechnology, climate change, health and well-being and the relationship between faith and science.

St. John Paul II established the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences in 1994 to conduct similar studies and sponsor conferences on social concerns. The academy’s topics have ranged from employment to human rights and from democracy to human trafficking. Its members are experts in areas including law, economics, history and international development.

After the Vatican announced Turkson was stepping down from his role as president of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, he told journalists in late January that he was awaiting a new assignment from the pope.

Speaking to Catholic News Service and The Tablet, the British Catholic weekly, he said, “I leave it to the Holy Father to identify the specific one he wants me to have. I suppose from the past 11 years, he probably knows where my talents are strongest, so he will put me where he thinks he will need my help best.”

Then-Pope Benedict XVI had named Turkson, the former archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 2009. He was made a cardinal — a first for Ghana — by St. John Paul II in 2003.