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Top contenders to be the next pope

Cardinals from around the world gather this week in a conclave to elect a new pope following the stunning resignation of Benedict XVI. In the secretive world of the Vatican, there is no way of knowing who is running. The archbishops that have come up repeatedly as strong contenders.

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Sean Patrick O’Malley, 68

As archbishop of Boston, O’Malley has faced the fallout from the church’s abuse scandals for nearly a decade. The fact he is mentioned at all as a potential papal candidate is testament to his efforts to bring together an archdiocese at the forefront of the abuse disclosures. Like other American cardinals, the papal prospects for the 68-year-old O’Malley suffer because of the accepted belief that many papal electors oppose the risk of having US global policies spill over, even indirectly, onto the Vatican’s image. O’Malley is among the most Internet-savvy members of the conclave.


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Angelo Bagnasco, 70

Archbishop of Genoa and head of the Italian bishops’ conference gives him influence in the conclave, where Italians represent the biggest national bloc.

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Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76

Buenos Aires archbishop reportedly came up second in the 2005 papal election. A keen political sensibility and self-effacing humility that fellow cardinals value highly.

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Timothy Dolan, 63

The archbishop of New York is an upbeat, affable defender of Catholic orthodoxy, and holds a job Pope John Paul II called ‘‘archbishop of the capital of the world.’’

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Peter Erdo, 60

His family defied communism in Hungary to practice their faith. An expert on canon law and university theologian, he is seen as a compromise candidate.

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Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, 70

The Honduran prelate embodies the activist wing of the Roman Catholic Church: outspoken on human rights, climate change, and debt relief for poor nations.

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Marc Ouellet, 68

Canada’s Ouellet has enjoyed the confidence of two popes, leans conservative, and his work in Rome and Latin America make him a favorite to become pontiff.

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Odilo Scherer, 63

The Brazilian embraces new methods for reaching believers, yet stays true to conservative line of Roman Catholic doctrine and hard-line positions on social issues.

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Angelo Scola, 71

Scola is seen as Italy’s best chance at reclaiming the papacy, following back-to-back pontiffs from outside the country that had a lock on the job for centuries.

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Malcolm Ranjith, 65

The rising influence of the developing world, along with his strong conservative credentials, helps keep Sri Lanka cardinal in the mix of papal contenders.

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Gianfranco Ravasi, 70

The Italian is an erudite scholar with a modern touch—just the combination some faithful see as ideal for reviving a church beset by scandal and a shrinking flock.

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Leonardo Sandri, 69

A Vatican insider from Argentina who has run the day-to-day operations of the global church’s vast bureaucracy and roamed the world as a papal diplomat.

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Christoph Schoenborn, 68

The soft-spoken conservative Austrian’s readiness to listen to those espousing reform could make him appealing to other cardinals and the church.

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Luis Antonio Tagle, 55

Asia’s most prominent Roman Catholic leader sings on stage, preaches on TV, brings churchgoers to laughter and tears with his homilies. And he’s on Facebook.

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Peter Turkson, 64

Often cast as the social conscience of the church, Ghana’s Turkson has a reputation as a man of peace and is viewed by many as the top African contender for pope.

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