“The resignation and final farewell of Pope Benedict XVI leaves unanswered questions about the future leader of the Catholic Church. Several church leaders from nations around the world are being called likely successors. One of those possible pontiffs comes from Nigeria. Benedict’s decision to resign due to failing health came as a surprise to the more than 1.1 billion Catholics around the world. The Vatican says it hopes to elect a new pope by Easter and the question on everyone’s mind is, “where will he come from?” The growth of the Catholic Church has slowed in Europe and the United States but beyond western shores, Catholicism is expanding. That has many speculating that the next pope may hail from South America, Asia or even Africa, where there are over 185 million Catholics. Two of the frontrunners are Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana and Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria.” – CNN
1. Cardinal Francis Arinze Photo:CNS/Paul Haring
Title: Cardinal-Bishop of Velletri-Segni
Arinze was another popular candidate in 2005, who some think might be too old for the position now. The Nigerian was born into the Igbo tribe but converted to Catholicism at age 9 after attending an Irish missionary school.
2. Cardinal Angelo Scola Photo By Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images
Titles: Cardinal-Priest of Santi XII Apostoli; Archbishop of Milan
Scola is one of the front-runners to be selected, after many considered him a candidate following John Paul II’s death in 2005. More academic than pastoral, Scola has published over 100 articles in journals of philosophy and theology and is the founder of Oasis, an organization that seeks to bolster the relationship between the Western and Muslim worlds.
3. Cardinal Peter Turkson Photo By Max Rossi/Reuters
Title: Cardinal-Priest of S. Liborio
Another favorite of the oddsmakers and prediction markets, Turkson was born in Western Ghana but studied at St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary in New York. His uncle is Muslim, and Turkson has been a leader in smoothing Catholic-Muslim relations across Africa.
4. Cardinal Marc Ouellet Photo: Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images
Titles:Cardinal-Priest of S. Maria in Traspontina; Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
As the head of the Congregation for Bishops, the Canadian-born Ouellet has the advantage of strong relationships with many of those involved with the conclave. If selected, he would be the first North American pope.
5. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco Photo By Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
Titles: Cardinal-Priest of Gran Madre di Dio; Archbishop of Genoa
Bagnasco is another Italian candidate, and is considered to be a potential compromise choice between the different voting factions. Bagnasco studied metaphysics and contemporary atheism at the University of Genoa….