Cardinal Turkson talks Biden, Holy Communion on HBO

By | October 5, 2021

The U.S. bishops in June voted to draft a formal statement on what the Eucharist means in the Church. They have cited lack of understanding among Catholics about Church teaching and about worthiness to receive Holy Communion, and some discussion brought up the matter of prominent pro-abortion rights Catholic politicians.
In June, U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), took to Twitter to dare the U.S. bishops to deny him Holy Communion over his support for contraception, legal abortion, and same-sex marriage. The Democratic Party has become strongly pro-abortion rights in recent decades and tensions have increased as a Republican-dominated Supreme Court appears set to change precedent mandating legal abortion nationwide.
Turkson’s other comments discussed a lack of action in global development efforts.
“We talk more than we do. We talk a lot, and we do very little,” he told Axios on HBO. “Some president, some head of state, says ‘When I go back, every parliamentarian in my country will use an electric car.’ It’s not happened.”

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The Church tries to move people to action through “appeal and encouragement,” he said, adding “We’re going to try to bring the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth there.”
On the question of vaccine distribution, Turkson noted that Biden is trying to deliver on promises to vaccinate enough Americans. Global gatherings like G7 and G20 conferences witnessed “a lot of promises” about how many vaccine doses would be made available for Africa and other countries.
While he agreed that wealthy countries can and need to do more, he said, “I basically would wish to encourage heads of state and leaders in Africa to also explore traditional therapies for this.”
“If local heads of state were to promote local herbal medication, our dependence will not be 100% on vaccines,” he said, adding, “we need to diversify our therapies.”
When the host asked Turkson if he doubted that taking the vaccine, for most people, is “wise and helpful,” Turkson responded: “No, certainly.”
Allen framed Catholic teaching on the ordination of women as a matter of rights. Turkson told Allen that he never had a “personal struggle” with Catholic teaching on this point.
“Is that a question of rights? Not even men who are ordained consider that to be a right.”
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On the matter of sexual abuse, the cardinal said that all the young people who enter seminary and convents are “products of a society.”
“I’m not blaming society for crime,” he said, adding that it is not necessary to be oblivious to “factors that influence the lives of people who come to become priests.”
“They come from certain backgrounds, and we don’t know what has contaminated them from that background,” he said. Some could be victims of abuse themselves.
He advocated efforts to ensure prospective priests’ characters are fully developed and known before they are ordained and show abusive tendencies “to the embarrassment of the Church and everybody.”
Turkson, who is black, discussed racism. He said, “Certainly the Church can do more. There was a time when Church institutions owned slaves because it was the turn of the time, as it were.”
“What is past is past,” he said, while endorsing “Reparation if it can be made can be made.” There must also be a call for resolve “not to repeat past errors.