February 12, 2013

No clear front-runner emerges to succeed Benedict XVI

Few expect big changes. Benedict appointed most of the cardinals who will choose his successor.

By NICOLE WINFIELD The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Joao Braz de Aviz
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Joao Braz de Aviz, Brazil

Odilo Pedro Scherer
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Odilo Pedro Scherer, right, Brazil


Additional Photos Below


BY VATICAN guidelines, an event known as the conclave will convene between 15 and 20 days after the official resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 28. The secretive event, held at the Sistine Chapel, will bring together members of the Church’s College of Cardinals to select a new pope.

AS OF LAST NOVEMBER, there were 118 members of the College of Cardinals who were under the age of 80 and eligible to cast a vote for the next pope. Older and retired cardinals can participate in discussions but cannot vote. Pope Benedict XVI cannot vote on his successor.

ALREADY, several names have emerged as possible successors, but there is no active campaigning. There is typically a first ballot held on the first day to get a sense of who will be considered a candidate.

AFTER THAT, there are four votes each day, two in the morning and two in the afternoon, until a pope is selected by two-thirds of the cardinals.

BECAUSE NO ONE is allowed inside during voting, the Vatican burns the ballots in a stove. The smoke released from the chimney signals that a vote is completed. Black smoke means a pope has not been named. White smoke means he has.

ONCE A NEW POPE is elected, he is automatically the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Each pope is free to choose his own name, with most choices being a favorite saint or another pope. The only name that is sacrosanct is Peter, the first pope.

Source: Religion News Service


There are a handful of candidates from Latin America -- and by Monday their backers were in full force touting their attributes.

• Leading Latin American possibilities include Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, the 63-year-old archbishop of Sao Paulo, and Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, 69, head of the Vatican's office for Eastern rite churches. Sandri earned fame as the "voice" of Pope John Paul II when the pontiff lost the ability to speak because of his Parkinson's disease.

• Brazilian Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, 65, has earned praise as head of the Vatican's office for religious congregations, even though he's only held the job since 2011. He has had the task of trying to rebuild trust between the Vatican and religious orders that broke down during his predecessor's reign.

His deputy took that effort too far in reaching out to U.S. nuns who were the subject of a Vatican doctrinal crackdown, and was subsequently sent back to the United States.

• Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana is one of the highest-ranking African cardinals at the Vatican, currently heading the Vatican's office for justice and peace. But he is prone to gaffes, and is considered something of a wild card.

• Cardinal Antonio Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, is a rising star in the church, but at 56 and having only been named a cardinal last year, he is considered too young.

• North America has a few candidates, although the Americans are considered longshots. These include Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Cardinal Raymond Burke, an arch-conservative and the Vatican's top judge.

• Canadian Cardinal Marc Oeullet is a contender, earning the respect of his colleagues as head of the Vatican's office for bishops.


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Additional Photos

Leonardo Sandri
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Leonardo Sandri, Argentina


Christoph Schoenborn
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Christoph Schoenborn, Austria


Timothy Dolan
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Timothy Dolan, United States


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