Three days after Vatican Palace officials announced the impending resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, possible contenders for the next Vicar of Christ and Successor to the throne of St.Peter were released by leading newspapers in the world.
The only people who can elect the next pope are Cardinals also called the Princes of the Universal Church.
The Papabili or potential Popes came from different countries and lived in diverse cultures across the globe. Although no specific criteria had established by the Vatican to choose the next Pope, the ideal candidate for the next Roman Pontiff should always be someone who has the competence and devotion to spread and promote international understanding, peace, unity among races, Christian values and the good news of the gospel, someone who can staunchly defend the practices, doctrine and apostolic ministry of the Roman Catholic church.
In the past Conclave (gathering of cardinals around the world to elect the next pope) mysterious circumstances, wisdom and piousness became the basis of the selection of the next Pope. The manner of selection is one of the best kept secrets of the Vatican, it was never divulged to the public and the media has no access on how each candidate is voted and selected.
OATH OF SECRECY
The Conclave is held in the Sistine Chapel (one of the most beautiful and grandest chapels in the world where the ceiling was personally designed by Michaelangelo) within the Vatican walls and the moment the Cardinals entered the place all doors are closed. The only hint given to the public regarding the progress of the election is the smoke that passes through the chimney of the chapel. A black smoke means the deliberation is on going while a white smoke means a new pope is elected. The staff assigned to take care the Cardinals during the duration of the Conclave will be under the oath of secrecy and any leaks made by them will means excommunication from the Catholic Church. And they will make it very sure that the area has no hidden camera or recording devices, the place where the cardinals gathered for deliberation is extremely exclusive.
Lately, due to the sudden resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, unheard for Roman Pontiffs for the last seven centuries, another upcoming Conclave will be called to elect the next Pope and the anticipation among Catholics all over the world on who will be the next Supreme Head of the Universal Church became intense again.
Among the potential popes mentioned are Cardinals from the US, Latin America, France, Austria, Italy and the Philippines. Each of them boosts credible credentials and reputations of becoming the next Vicar of Jesus Christ, but each has his own disadvantage that might undermine the chances of being elected.
Among the great contenders are the following:
Angelo Scola, 71 years old. Milan, Italy. He came from a country considered by many as a springboard to Papacy as most Popes were Italians. He is an expert on bioethics. But his overtly straightforward way of communicating might not suit the standard of other Cardinals who are looking for someone who is more like John Paul II, with a gift of charisma to the masses.
Timothy Dolan, 62 years old. New York City, USA. His dynamism and good sense of humor impressed the Vatican, his back-slapping style maybe too American for some and Traditionalists and Conservatives are wary about a Superpower Pope.
Latin American Cardinals from left: Joao Braz De Aziz, Odillo Pedro Scherer both from Brazil and Leonardo Sandri from Argentina
Odilo Pedro Scherer, 63 years old. Brasilia, Brazil. The strongest candidate among Cardinals from Latin America. He is regarded as a very conservative cardinal, but the rapid growth of Protestants in Brazil denotes that something was not right in the pastoral mission there and it might work against him.
Cardinal Luis Tagle
Luis Tagle, 55 years old, Manila, Philippines. Among the contenders, Tagle is the youngest and the newest cardinal to be installed. He was only made Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in November 2011. He has the charisma and mass appeal often compared to Blessed John Paul II. He is close to the current pope and worked with him in the International Theological Commission. Tagle strongly uphold the social teachings of the Catholic church and extremely opposed RH Bill, same sex marriages and abortion. He came from a country that still follows conservative approaches in life, divorce and abortion here are not yet legal.