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Who will become the next Pope?

Last updated on: February 12, 2013 08:51 IST

Who will become the next Pope?

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Monday's announcement that Pope Benedict XVI, 85, will resign from his ministry on February 28 due to failing health has stunned the world. The 265th Pope who was elected on 24 April, 2005, and served dual roles as Sovereign of the Vatican City State and leader of the 1.2 billion member-Roman Catholic Church, is the first to resign from papacy in at least 595 years -- after Pope Gregory XII stepped down to heal a schism in 1417.

At the same time, the world is abuzz with speculation over the next Pope. From experts to bookmakers, opinions regarding Pope Benedict XVI's successor are pouring in from many quarters.

In November last year, Pope Benedict appointed six non-European prelate Roman Catholic cardinals to the Vatican's College of Cardinals -- the elite body that advises the pontiff and elects his successor upon his death. With 62 cardinal electors, Europeans still have a slight majority in the 120-member group, but their numbers have shrunk to be about even with the rest of the world.

There are now 58 non-European electors and of them, 14 are from North America, 21 are from Latin America, Africa and Asia have 11 each and Australia has one. Two of the new cardinals, Boutros Rai, 72, of Lebanon, and Onaiyekan, 68, of Nigeria, are from countries with significant Muslim populations.

Rediff.com takes a look at some of the prominent papabile cardinals who might take over from Pope Benedict XVI.

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Image: Pope Benedict XVI's announcement to retire later this month has shocked the world
Photographs: Reuters
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Francis Arinze

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Cardinal Francis Arinze, 80, is the Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and has served as a prefect from 2002 to 2008.

An Igbo Nigerian, he is the current Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni, after succeeding Joseph Ratzinger, who went on to become Pope Benedict XVI, since 2005.

Arinze was one of the principal advisors to Pope John Paul II, and was considered papabile before the 2005 papal conclave, which elected Benedict XVI.

Born in a traditional African religion, Arinze converted to Christianity and was baptized on his ninth birthday.

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Photographs: Reuters

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Peter Turkson

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Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, 64, is a Ghanian cardinaland the current president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on 24 October 2009.

There's already a lot of buzz about Turkson becoming the first African Pope. Turkson has spoken out in the past about the possibility of a black Pope being appointed, saying: "If God would wish to see a black man also as pope, thanks be to God."

"He's also politically active -- in 2008, in the wake of the financial crisis, he helped draw up a proposal to reform the international financial system by creating a Global Public Authority and a Global Bank that consider the interest of all developing countries. The document criticized the actual structure of International Monetary Fund and other institutions," The London Evening Standard wrote.

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Photographs: Reuters

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Marc Ouellet

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Marc Ouellet, 68, a Canadian cardinal of the Catholic Church, is the current prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and concurrently president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on 30 June 2010.

"Ouellet is currently the bookies favourite. Fluent in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and German, Ouellet is well known for his missionary work in South America and was personally consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 2003. Ouellet was touted as a papal possibility by the National Catholic Reporter in 2005," a report stated.

National Catholic Reporter Vatican specialist John Allen has described Ouellet as a "veteran in dealing with the secularised West, someone smart and intellectual with a cosmopolitan resume".

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Photographs: Reuters

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Leonardo Sandri

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Leonardo Sandri, 70, is an Argentinean cardinal and is thecurrent Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in the Roman Curia, the Vatican bureaucracy.

The son of Italian immigrants to Buenos Aires, Sandri held the third most important position within the Vatican (after the Cardinal Secretary of State and the Pope himself) between 2000 and 2007, essentially serving as the chief of staff.

During the time of John Paul II's declining health, he would read the texts that the Pope could not personally deliver and announced the Pope's death to the world from St. Peter's Square, saying, "Our Holy Father John Paul has returned to the house of the Father...We all feel like orphans this evening."

Church historian Matthew Bunson has described Sandri as "prayerful, well-liked around the world and very much aware, because of his diplomatic experience, of the global dimensions of the Church".

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Photographs: Reuters

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Angelo Bagnasco

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Agnelo Bagnasco, 69, an Italian cardinal, currently serves as Archbishop of Genoa and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

Believed to be conservative in his views, Bagnacso made headlines last year for a ripping attack on then-Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and other leaders as unethical role models.

Church historian Matthew Bunson, calls Bagnasco, former professor of metaphysics and contemporary atheism "an intellectual heavyweight" who speaks multiple languages, and takes strong stands on doctrine, USAToday reported.

"But the biggest boost may come from Bagnasco's role as two-time president of the Italian bishops conference. Italians hold about a fourth of the seats in the College of Cardinals that will choose the next pope," the report added.

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Photographs: Reuters

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Gianfranco Ravasi

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Italian prelate Gianfranco Ravasi, 69, serves in the Roman Curiaas President of the Pontifical Council for Culture. On 20 November 2010 Ravasi was created cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI.

Vatican specialist John Allen calls Ravasi "a master communicator who could take the world by storm. He can ignite rich, solid commitment to Catholic orthodoxy without ever coming off as a scold."

"The Italian-born a Biblical scholar has the advantage of being based in Rome. Cardinals in the curia, the church's governing bureaucracy, get to meet many of the electors that cardinals in far-flung posts scarcely know," USAToday reported.

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Photographs: Reuters

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Angelo Scola

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Italian Cardinal Angelo Scola, 70, was appointed Archbishop of Milan by Pope Benedict XVI in June, 2011.

Church historian Matthew Bunson says Scola, a top scholar on Islam and Christian-Muslim dialogue, "is well positioned for dealing with the challenges of secularism and materialism in the West".


Photographs: Reuters

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