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Potential pope candidate delivered keynote in Dayton in 2012

Cardinal Peter Turkson, who served as the keynote speaker at a June conference at the University of Dayton, is widely considered a serious contender to replace the resigning Pope Benedict XVI, and if chosen, he would become the first pope of African descent.

Turkson, 64, a native of Ghana who is one of the premier Catholic theologians, was appointed president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. Turkson has strongly advocated for businesses acting in ethical and socially responsible manners that are consistent with their Catholic beliefs.

During his keynote address on June 18 at the 8th annual International Conference on Catholic Social Thought and Management Education at UD, Turkson introduced a new document, the “Vocation of the Business Leader,” which urges business leaders to balance the need to generate profits with adhering to social and environmental values.

“I’m confident that it will really promote the vocation of entrepreneurs and executives to serve God, God’s people and the common good,” Turkson said. “It is my prayer that it circulates widely and enables businessmen to gradually introduce their business as (a central component) of their own faith, and more increasingly will help to bridge the gap between business and faith.”

Turkson believes business leaders have a great opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the world, and during his address he outlined practical applications of principles of social justice to the business world, said the Rev. Br. Raymond Fitz, the former UD president and current professor of social justice.

Fitz, who got to know Turkson during his visit, said the cardinal is “profoundly” intelligent and a thoughtful biblical scholar who deeply understands the church’s social teachings.

“I think particularly (I’m impressed) by his ability to focus on the dignity of the human person,” Fitz said.

Fitz said the church is gaining followers at the fastest rate in Latin America and Africa, and selecting Turkson would recognize the shifting global role of Catholicism.

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