February 18, 2013
Roughly 117 cardinals will go into the conclave that will choose a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. Only a few, however, have an inside track to become the next to wear the fisherman's ring. Here are eight possible choices.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, 68, would be the hometown favourite in Edmonton (alongside former archbishop, Cardinal Thomas Collins). He was rector of St. Joseph Seminary from 1994 to 1997 before his career took a meteoric upswing.

Ouellet was taken from Edmonton to teach at the John Paul II Institute in Rome. From there, he became archbishop of Quebec in 2002 before becoming head of the powerful Vatican Congregation for Bishops in 2010.

Ouellet has also taught at seminaries in Colombia and Montreal for many years. He is fluent in five languages.

His international experience, theological heft, pastoral experience and ties to the Vatican Curia make him a strong candidate.

Cardinal Angelo Scola

Cardinal Angelo Scola, 71, has headed two of Italy's largest and more prestigious dioceses - Venice, from 2002 to 2011, and, since June 2011, the archdiocese of Milan. His transfer from Venice to Milan was seen as a sign of papal favour, although he was already seen as a leading candidate to succeed Pope Benedict.

Like Ouellet, he is an expert in the thought of theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. Also, like Ouellet, his election would represent continuity with the thought of the current pontiff.

Although an academic with doctorates in both philosophy and theology, Scola has a reputation for openness and pastoral concern. He has been a bishop since 1991.

Cardinal Peter Turkson

Cardinal Peter Turkson, 64, has been president of the Vatican's Council for Justice and Peace since 2009. A native of Ghana, he had spent the previous 16 years as archbishop of Cape Coast.

Under Turkson's leadership, the justice and peace council produced a document on global financial reform, and he has encouraged business leaders to implement the ideas in Pope Benedict's encyclical Caritas in Veritate. He has travelled widely spreading the Church's social doctrine.

He has said the world must strive to fight poverty, not eliminate the poor.

Accomplished in six languages, Turkson is a Scripture scholar with a doctorate from the Pontifical Biblical Institute.

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, 71, of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, is another papabile with an Edmonton connection. He spoke at Nothing More Beautiful in February 2011.

President of Caritas Internationalis for the past five years, Maradiaga, 70, has been a strong campaigner for human rights, speaking out against poverty, violence, police corruption and disrespect for human life in his homeland.

A Salesian, he has been a bishop since 1978. He is considered a moderate in the sometimes polarized Latin American bishops' conference. Maradiaga was also considered papabile in 2005, but received only a few votes.

He has doctorates in philosophy and theology and speaks seven languages.

Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne

Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, 69, is archbishop of Lima, Peru, and a member of Opus Dei. During the mid-1990s, he was archbishop of Ayacucho, then a centre of guerrilla activity, and attempted to negotiate the release of hostages held in the Japanese embassy.

A former basketball star who earned a degree in engineering before becoming a priest, Cipriani has been politically outspoken, strongly opposing same-sex marriage prior to its legalization in Peru in 2005. He also went on television urging pregnant women not to abort their babies. "We (the Church) will take responsibility" for the child, he said.

Cipriani was also considered papabile prior to the 2005 conclave.

Cardinal Luis Tagle

Cardinal Luis Tagle, 55, the archbishop of Manila, was only made a cardinal in November and is considered a longshot to be elected pope.

However, he has a pastoral heart and is well-loved in both dioceses where he has served. Tagle has been outspoken on behalf of the poor in the Philippines and on other social justice issues.

He is also considered a strong theologian who earned his doctorate at The Catholic University of America studying under the late Cardinal Avery Dulles.

He is considered charismatic along the lines of Blessed Pope John Paul II, is noted for his sense of humour and is an excellent public speaker.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, 69, was born in Argentina to parents of Italian descent, something that may help him win papal votes on two continents.

He was named prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Eastern Churches in 2007 after a career in the Vatican diplomatic corps.

Sandri has been the apostolic nuncio to both Venezuela and Mexico and has also served at the Vatican's embassies in Madagascar and the United States. He served as assistant secretary of state under Pope John Paul II and, in the pope's final days, read the texts that the pope could not personally deliver.

A drawback for Sandri is that he has never served as the head of a diocese.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, 70, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will preach Pope Benedict's final Lenten retreat, Feb. 17-23. He was a professor of the Old Testament before serving 18 years as prefect of the Ambrosian Library in Milan.

Ravasi wrote the Good Friday meditations for Pope Benedict's Way of the Cross in 2007, and, later that year, the pope made him head of the Council for Culture. Since 1988, he has been the host of a popular Sunday morning biblical reflection on Italian TV.

Although theologically conservative, Ravasi is an innovator who has nurtured Vatican dialogue with non-believers on cultural issues. However, he has never served as a diocesan bishop.