Saturday, 2 March 2013


As the College of Cardinals goes into the Conclave to elect the successor of Pope Benedict XV1, one African is among those tipped to emerge as the new pontiff. He is Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. Going by the rule that only cardinals below the age of 81 will enter the Conclave, it means that the new Pope would not be above 80 years. This rules out Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, who is 81.

Below are the profiles of cardinals, who may emerge as bishop.

Cardinal Peter Turkson

A Ghanaian, he got his red hat from Pope John Paul II in 2003. He is president of the Vatican’s pontifical council for justice and peace.

Born on October 11, 1948 in Nsuta-Wassaw, a mining hub in Ghana’s western region, to a Methodist mother and a Catholic father, he was educated in New York and Rome before being ordained to the priesthood in 1975. In 1992, he was appointed archbishop of Cape Coast, the former colonial capital of Ghana and a key diocese.

As archbishop, Turkson was known for his human touch. He speaks his native Ghanaian language, Fante, as well as other Ghanaian languages and English, French, Italian, German and Hebrew, as well as understanding Latin and Greek.

Turkson’s popularity in West Africa has been boosted by his regular television appearances, particularly a weekly broadcast every Saturday morning on the state channel Ghana TV. He has maintained strong ties with his native country while carrying out his duties in the Vatican.

However, he has not been immune to controversy. He sparked outcry last year when he screened a YouTube film at an international meeting of bishops featuring alarmist predictions at the rise of Islam in Europe. The clip, entitled Muslim Demographics, included claims such as: “In just 39 years, France will be an Islamic republic.”

Cardinal Marc Ouellet

The multilingual Canadian cardinal, is the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, which oversees the handing out of mitres. He is one of the most powerful men in the Vatican. The 68-year-old former archbishop of Quebec, who was appointed to the third most important job in the Vatican three years ago, has the power to make or break careers. His position makes him a natural candidate for the papacy, although he was careful to downplay any talk of promotion when he was chosen to lead the congregation in July 2010.

Born in Quebec in 1944, Ouellet studied at Laval University, the Grand Séminaire de Montréal and the Université de Montréal before being ordained in May 1968. He has spent many years living and teaching in Colombia, which would make him an attractive figure to Latin American Catholics should one of their number again be passed over as pontiff. He was ordained as bishop by John Paul II and is seen as a close ally of Benedict XVI.

Despite his reputation as a traditionalist, in 2007, Ouellet issued an open apology for the church’s pre-1960s attitudes, saying they had contributed to “anti-Semitism, racism, indifference to First Nations and discrimination against women and homosexuals” in Quebec. Three years later, however, he caused outrage after telling an anti-abortion conference in Quebec City that aborting a pregnancy was a “moral crime”, even in rape cases.

Cardinal Angelo Scola

He was born on November 7, 1941 in Lombardy. Ordained in 1970, he holds doctorates in Philosophy and Theology and was professor of theological anthropology at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. He was appointed bishop of Grosseto in 1991, patriarch of Venice in 2002, proclaimed cardinal in 2003, and appointed archbishop of Milan in 2011.

In spite of his place at the top of the Vatican hierarchy and his academic pedigree, he has urged the church to do more to appeal to the modern world, arguing it needs to build on the second Vatican Council of the 1960s, which proved a landmark moment in Roman Catholic history.

An ardent believer in the church’s role at the centre of society, Scola has publicly bemoaned its inability to clearly communicate its message on matters such as marriage.

Cardinal Jorge Marion Bergoglio

He is currently Archbishop of Buenos Aries, Argentina. Reports indicate he was the runner-up in the last papal election, ultimately losing to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who would go on to become Pope Benedict XVI.

People, who know the cardinal, say the 76-year-old is a simple man who would defend catholic identity and current traditions.

Joao Braz de Aviz

The 65-year-old cardinal from Brazil, is also a possible Pope. He is said to have brought fresh air to the Vatican department for religious congregations when he took over in 2011. He supports the preference for the poor in Latin America’s liberation theology, but not the excesses of its advocates. Possible drawbacks include his low profile.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan

He is 62 from United States of America. He became the voice of U.S. Catholicism after being named archbishop of New York in 2009. His humour and dynamism have impressed the Vatican, where both are often missing. But cardinals are wary of a “superpower Pope” and his backslapping style may be too American for some.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi

From Italy, Ravasi is 70 and has been Vatican culture minister since 2007. He represents the Church to the worlds of art, science, and culture and even to atheists. This profile could hurt him if cardinals decide they need an experienced pastor rather than another professor as pope.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri

From Argentina, he is a “transatlantic” figure born in Buenos Aires to Italian parents. He held the third-highest Vatican post, as its chief of staff in 2000-2007. But he has no pastoral experience and his job overseeing eastern churches is not a power position in Rome.

Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer

The 63-year-old cardinal from Brazil ranks as Latin America’s strongest candidate. Archbishop of Sao Paolo, the largest diocese in the largest Catholic country, he is conservative in his country but would rank as a moderate elsewhere. The rapid growth of Protestant churches in Brazil could count against him.

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn

He is a former student of Pope Benedict with a pastoral touch the pontiff lacks. At 57, the Vienna archbishop has ranked as papal material since editing the Church catechism in the 1990s. But some cautious reform stands and strong dissent by some Austrian priests could hurt him.

Cardinal Luis Tagle

At 55, Tagle from Philippines, has a charisma often compared to that of the late Pope John Paul. He is also close to Pope Benedict after working with him at the International Theological Commission. While he has many fans, he only became a cardinal in 2012 and conclaves are wary of young candidates.

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