Cheat Sheet

Pope Idol: Who Will Rule Rome Next?

Momentum is building for an African pontiff, but an American and a Canadian will likely be in the mix, too.

AP, Getty, AP (2), Getty (2)

AP, Getty, AP (2), Getty (2)

By Rachel Krantz


Pope Benedict XVI, 85, announced his resignation Monday, leaving the Catholic Church with less than a month to find someone to fill his popemobile. While bookies have their money on an African or Latin American pope this time around, an American (and even a Canadian!) could prove to be wildcards. The Daily Beast picks the 11 most likely candidates to succeed the Holy Father.

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Cardinal Francis Arinze

An early favorite, Cardinal Francis of Nigeria would be the first black pope appointed since the Middle Ages, a welcome prospect for the millions clamoring to see more diversity in the Holy See. Arinze, 80, converted to Catholicism at age 9, and has been an overachiever ever since. He served as a principal adviser to Pope John Paul II, who strongly advocated against the use of condoms in Africa, despite the AIDS crisis. Arinze has stated he thinks Muslims, Buddhists, and Jews can go to heaven, and on a completely separate note, reportedly loves tennis and football.

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Cardinal Peter Turkson

Another frontrunner, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana is already an influential voice within the church. Benedict appointed Turkson president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 2009, which deals with action initiatives for the church, a position that led him to call forglobal public authority” and a “central world bank” to rule over financial institutions that have become ineffective in dealing with crises. Turkson, 64, is also a polyglot who speaks Hebrew, English, Fante, Italian, German, and French. So what does he think of being a favorite to succeed Pope Benedict? “If God would wish to see a black man also as pope, thanks be to God,” Turkson said in 2009.

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Archbishop Odilo Scherer

The Archbishop of Sao Paulo, Cardinal Scherer, 63, is of German-Brazilian descent. Not surprisingly, he has been an advocate against secularization in Brazil, arguing against the removal of public crosses as well as abortion, even in cases of infants with open cranial defects.

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Cardinal Leonardo Sandri

Though he’s practically a spring chicken at 64, Italian-born Argentine Cardinal Sandri is another frontrunner. Sandri is no stranger to power, and is perhaps best known for his close relationship to the late Pope John Paul II, even announcing his death to the public in 2005.

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Cardinal Marc Ouellet

The lone Canadian of the bunch, Cardinal Ouellet, 68, is a key figure in the church, though likely a longshot for pope. Not to mention, he may not want the job. In 2011, Ouellet said that being appointed pope “would be a nightmare.”  He said while “you can’t keep the world from dreaming things up,” seeing Pope Benedict’s workload at close range makes the prospect of the papacy “not very enviable.” Maybe playing hard-to-get is all part of his strategy?

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Cardinal Angelo Scola

Finally, an Italian! Cardinal Scola, 71, was appointed archbishop of Milan in 2011. Scola seems to be an academic at heart, holding two doctorates and authoring numerous works on topics ranging from  bio-medical ethics to human sexuality. Scola has distanced himself from the more conservative sects in the church in recent years, which some speculate signals a desire to serve as pope.

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Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn

Progressives, here’s your new favorite cardinal. The archbishop of Vienna is likely the most liberal of the viable candidates to succeed Benedict. Last year, Schoenborn made headlines when he overruled one of his priests and allowed an openly gay man to serve on a parish council. In 2010, Schoenborn even called for priestly celibacy in the Latin Rite to be reexamined, in light of the church’s  numerous sex-abuse scandals. "The question of priestly celibacy and the question of personality development … require a great deal of honesty, both on the part of the church and of society as a whole,” Schoenborn wrote in his archdiocesan magazine.

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York

Another longshot, mostly due to the momentum for an African or Latin American pope, Dolan is known for being both conservative and outspoken. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Dolan has said he “can’t remember a time when he didn’t want to be a priest.” Appointed archbishop of New York in 2009, Dolan is known for his public disapproval of President Obama’s birth-control health-care mandate saying “never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.”

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Joao Braz de Aviz

Another of the less-than-likely candidates, Brazilian Archbishop Aviz, 65, has been vocal about his conflicts of faith. Appointed as a cardinal in 2011, Aviz admitted he almost abandoned the Catholic Church because of the popularization of liberation ideology. In an interview with the Vatican’s magazine, Aviz said that though he struggled with the leniency attached to the theology, he came to appreciate that the movement represented “the church’s sincere and responsible concern for the vast phenomenon of social exclusion.”

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Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga

Cardinal Maradiaga, 71, is widely considered a rising star in the Latin American Church. Holding doctorates in philosophy and theology, Maradiaga is also the first cardinal from Honduras. Maradiaga is known as an advocate for the poor and a moderate—though in papal terms, that’s all relative. In 2008, he made headlines when he criticized pop star Ricky Martin for fathering his children with a surrogate mother, saying, “What Martin did diminishes the dignity of a human being. You can’t just buy or rent life.”

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Hillary Clinton

OK, so we know she isn’t Catholic, but we hear the former secretary of State is available and highly adaptable.