Factbox: List of likely candidates for papacy

Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:24am EDT
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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - There are no official candidates in the election for pope, which will begin when 115 cardinal electors file into the Sistine Chapel for their conclave on Tuesday.

The closed-door conclave at the Vatican continues until a new pontiff is elected, in a process which usually takes about three days. Outcomes are unpredictable because the winner needs two-thirds of the votes, or 77 out of 115.

A strong candidate could start out with dozens of votes in the first round of voting on Tuesday afternoon. But if he fails to build on that in subsequent voting rounds - two each in morning and afternoon sessions - the cardinals might look for an alternative candidate who can unite a majority behind him.

Several names are often mentioned as "papabile" (potential pope). Here are the dozen most frequently mentioned names:


- Angelo Scola (Italy, 71) is archbishop of Milan, a springboard to the papacy, and the leading Italian candidate. A cerebral expert on morality and bioethics, he is also familiar with Islam as head of a foundation for Muslim-Christian understanding. Theologically close to Pope Benedict, his intellectual oratory could put off cardinals seeking a charismatic communicator.

- Odilo Scherer (Brazil, 63) is the leading candidate from Latin America, where 42 percent of the world's Catholics live. Archbishop of Sao Paulo, the biggest diocese in the country, he is conservative there but would rank as a moderate elsewhere. The rapid growth of Protestant churches in Brazil that woo away Catholics could count against him.

- Marc Ouellet (Canada, 68) is the Vatican's top staff director as head of the Congregation for Bishops. A theologian of the Ratzinger school, he once said becoming pope "would be a nightmare". Though well connected within the Curia, the Vatican's central administration, and in Latin America, the widespread secularism of his native Quebec could hurt him and even friends say he is not charismatic.

- Sean O'Malley (USA, 68) is the "clean hands" candidate if cardinals make settling the sexual abuse crisis a top priority. Appointed to Boston in 2003 after a major abuse crisis there, he sold off archdiocesan properties to pay damages and closed down little-used churches despite protests. His calm authority and Franciscan humility could offset concerns about a "superpower pope".   Continued...

Cardinals Odilo Scherer of Brazil arrives to give mass at the Saint Andrea at the Quirinale church in Rome March 10, 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile