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Papal Conclave: The Front Runners…(2)

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Date: 7th March, 2013

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In our second-part report, ahead of the election of Pope Benedict XVI’s successor by 115 cardinal-electors during a secret poll - known as a Conclave - in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel, we look at the front-runners - quaintly called papabile.

A candidate’s credentials will be bolstered if he has Curial experience and affinity with Europe - a working knowledge of Italian is seen as a prerequisite. But there is also speculation the new pontiff may come from one of the Church’s growth areas - 42% of the world’s 1.2bn Catholics come from Latin America, as do a sixth of the electors.

Odilo Scherer, Brazil
The archbishop of Sao Paulo, Cardinal Odilo Scherer, 63, is the most prominent Latin American candidate.
While head of the largest diocese in the world’s largest Catholic country, Brazil, Cardinal Scherer has also gained considerable Vatican credentials.

He obtained his doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and worked at the Congregation for Bishops there.

He has been seen as a compromise candidate who could satisfy both European and Latin American congregations. On the other hand, the 63-year-old German-Brazilian has not been able to reverse a marked downward trend in the number of Catholics in Latin America.

Leonardo Sandri, Argentina
Cardinal Sandri, 63, was born in Buenos Aires in Argentina to Italian parents.
He became a papal diplomat after ordination and served as apostolic nuncio to Venezuela and Mexico.  Between 2000 and 2007 he was third-in-command at the Vatican, serving as its chief of staff.

Towards the end of John Paul II’s papacy, he became the ailing pope’s spokesman, and it was Cardinal Sandri who delivered the announcement of the Pope’s death in St Peter’s Square 2005.
He now heads the Vatican department for Eastern Churches.

Peter Turkson, Ghana
Born in western Ghana in October 1948 to a Methodist mother and a Catholic father, Peter Turkson became the first-ever Ghanaian cardinal in 2003 when he was appointed by Pope John Paul II.

The 64-year-old is the relator, or general secretary, of the Synod for Africa, making him a strong candidate to become the first African pope of the modern age, taking on a mantle that was held during the 2005 Conclave by Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze.
The last two Popes both served as relators for a synod of bishops.

Cardinal Turkson is also the head of Vatican’s Council for Justice and Peace, which released a document in 2011 calling for radical economic reforms to deal with the global recession.

The document condemned the “idolatry of the market”, and Cardinal Turkson expressed support for the Occupy Wall Street protest movement.

Theologically, he is seen as a moderate, signalling openness, for example, to the argument that condoms might be appropriate for couples where one partner is HIV-positive and the other is not.

In a BBC interview on Monday, Cardinal Turkson side-stepped a question about whether he could be the next pontiff.

Luis Tagle, Philippines
At 55, Luis Tagle is one of the youngest papabili or potential candidates.
He is archbishop of the Philippines’ capital city, Manila - a 2.8 million-strong archdiocese, and he was made a cardinal only a few months ago, in November 2012.

Cardinal Tagle has gained a reputation as a man of the people - as bishop, he is once said to have ridden a cheap bicycle to a run-down neighbourhood in Manila, to deputise for a sick colleague.

He’s also known for inviting beggars outside his cathedral to share a meal with him. Tagle is one of the more media-savvy cardinals. He is a frequent broadcaster in the Philippines and has a presence on Facebook.

Joao Braz de Aviz, Brazil
The 65-year-old from Brazil has had his reputation bolstered since taking over as prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in 2011.

One of eight children, he was born in Mafra, Santa Catarina, and completed his theological studies at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian and Pontifical Lateran Universities.

As a young parish priest in Brazil he was caught in the cross-fire of an armed robbery, with bullets perforating his lungs, intestines and an eye: some bullet fragments remain lodged in his body.

Having been made a bishop in 1994 he was appointed archbishop of Brasilia in 2004 and in May 2010 he organised the XVI National Eucharistic Congress to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the city.

He has focused on the welfare of the poor as espoused by the Liberation Theology popular in Latin America. But he distances itself from its ideological “excesses”, saying it almost caused him to abandon his vocation.

Timothy Dolan, United States
Cardinal Dolan, 62, from the United States, is the archbishop of the influential New York archdiocese.
He has extensive pastoral experience, having headed the Milwaukee diocese before that.

An affable character who has also ably led the US conference of Catholic bishops, he also has strong theological credentials with a PhD in Church History and spent in Rome both as a student and as rector of the North American College.

However, the very fact that he is American may stand in his way - cardinals are generally seen as reluctant to promote figures from a perceived super power state.


Article Credit: The Leadership News

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