Profiles of Pope John Paul’s Potential Successors

As the world mourns the death of one of the most popular Pope’s in history, the speculation over who the next Pope will be continues to grow. One of the questions on many people’s minds across the world is who will succeed Pope John Paul II and who will be the next person to lead the 1.1 billion Roman Catholics?

The world can remember that in fact Pope John Paul was very much an outsider in who would be chosen as Pope in 1978, and was the first Pope to be elected from outside Rome in 455 years.

It is impossible to print a list of potential candidates as potentially all baptised male Catholics may be elected as Pope. However, here is a list of the main candidates that press and religious leaders are touting as favourites to be the next Pope (list produced in simple alphabetical order):

1) Fracis Arinze - Nigerian
DOB: 1/11/1932

Cardinal Francis Arinze was the Vatican’s main coordinator for Islamic relations for nearly 20 years. Huge speculation has arisen that he could become the first African Pope in more than 1,500 years.

He is known as a firm theological expert, and was born into a animist village until he was converted to Catholicism and baptised at the age of nine.

Currently he is heading the Vatican Divine Worship department.

2) Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Argentine
DOB: 17/12/1936

Currently this candidate is the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and is well-known for his great humility. In Argentina’s capital city he lives in a simple flat and travels via public transport, and is often seen on the city’s buses.

Throughout his time as Archbishop, Bergoglio has often promoted basic biblical values as well as giving a definite spiritual focus to his ministry. In 2001 he helped to manage a synod of bishops that had gathered in Rome. However, many have said the fact that he belongs to a Jesuit order may be held against him as no Pope has ever come from the Jesuits, as its members are told to avoid Church honours and to serve the Pope himself.

3) Dario Castrillon Hoyos – Colombian
DOB: 04/07/1929

This Latin American Cardinal is known for his wide range of experience. In the 1980’s and early 1990’s he was secretary and president of CELAM – the conference that groups Latin American bishops.

He played a major role in helping the South American churches avoid controversial liberation theology. As a reward for his great works, Pope John Paul II called him to Rome in 1996 and gave him head position of a powerful Congregation for the Clergy, which deals with Priests all over the globe.

4) Godfried Danneels – Belgian
DOB: 04/06/1933

The Archbishop of Brussels is famous for preaching and has been leading a great drive to revive the Catholic Church in European cities.

He made controversial comments when he urged Vatican officials to allow women to hold top posts that are traditionally held by Cardinals, and that condoms could be used to fight HIV/Aids. He also has been an advocate to allow local bishops to have a greater say in the running of the Catholic Church.

Despite at times being controversial he has played a key role in Vatican Synods over the past decade, and can speak in Dutch, English, French and Italian.

5) Ivan Dias – Indian
DOB: 14/04/1936

Born in Bombay but has spent most of his life serving as a Church diplomat outside of India. He did, however, return to become the Archbishop of Bombay in 1997.

He served as a junior diplomat in Scandinavia, Indonesia and Madagascar, as well as holding senior posts in Ghana, South Korea and Albania. In addition he has run the Vatican desk that is responsible for relations with the Communist world and parts of Africa.

Dias is also competent in Hindi, English, Italian, French and Spanish.

6) Claudio Hummes – Brazilian
DOB: 08/08/0934

The Archbishop of Sao Paolo has profusely refused to allow himself be considered as progressive or conservative.

Hummes has been recognised for speaking out for the poor and for human rights, and is considered as having a sound theological and biblical understanding. He has expressed that the poor should cared for out of concern dictated by the gospel and not from political ideologies.

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