Factbox: List of likely candidates for papacy
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Cardinals Angelo Scola of Milan and Odilo Scherer of Sao Paulo are the two most often-mentioned frontrunners in the conclave to elect the next Roman Catholic pope that opens on Tuesday.
But about a dozen names of "papabile" (possible popes) are circulating among Vatican watchers in Rome. The 115 cardinals can turn to other candidates if the favourites fail to build momentum towards the necessary two-thirds majority, or 77 votes.
Identifying trends is difficult because there are no declared candidates and electors are sworn to secrecy about their preparations for the conclave and what happens inside the Sistine Chapel while they vote.
A strong candidate could win a large minority of votes in the first voting round on Tuesday afternoon. But if he fails to build on it in subsequent voting rounds - two each in morning and afternoon sessions - the cardinals could look elsewhere.
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. An expert on moral theology, Pope Benedict moved him there from Venice - another papal launching pad - in 2011 in what some saw as a sign of approval. Scola was long close to the conservative Italian Catholic group Communion and Liberation, which Benedict also favoured, but has kept his distance in recent years. He is familiar with Islam as head of a centre for Muslim-Christian understanding, with wide contacts abroad. His dense intellectual oratory could put off cardinals seeking a charismatic preacher.
- 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. His German family roots and stint working in the Vatican Curia give him important links to Europe, the largest voting bloc. Italian media say he enjoys support among Curia cardinals opposed to Scola. He is known for a sense of humour and tweets regularly. 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. An academic theologian of the Ratzinger school, he once said becoming pope "would be a nightmare". Well-connected within the Curia, the Vatican bureaucracy, he also has ties to Latin America from teaching there and now heading a Vatican commission on the region. Factors against him include his rough time as archbishop of Quebec, where his conservative views clashed with the very secular society there and he left apologising for any hurt he had caused. His bland speaking style is another drawback. Continued...