Canadian cardinal is the most likely next pope say insiders
Cardinal Marc Ouellet visited Ireland, Cardinal Dolan longshot
With the resignation of Pope Benedict coming into effect on Feb 28th, there are only 20 days for the eligible cardinals with voting rights to elect a new pope.
There is a possible Irish connection to the next pope and if you didn't go to the Eucharistic Congress last summer you may have missed out on meeting him. The Papal Legate, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, from Canada is seen as a very strong front runner. Conservative, he is experienced in dealing with child abuse and the struggle with more liberal elements pushing for a freeing up of Catholic moral teaching.
New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan is worth a punt if the College of Cardinals choose to opt for a native English speaker. Having spent years running the North American College in Rome, Dolan is fluent in Italian and is well-known in Vatican circles. He was part of Pope Benedict's investigation into the Church in Ireland in the wake of the clerical abuse scandals. Both friends and foes describe him as "pugnaciously orthodox." He is media savvy, hosting a regular radio programme and has sparred with the New York Times accusing the paper of bias against the Catholic Church.
His brash American demeanour will count against him, particularly among the Italian cardinals. He also would signal a taking of sides in the very divided American church.
Dolan, as comfortable drinking beer at a barbecue as he is in the corridors of power, may be just too rooted for the old guard in the Roman Curia.
Bookmaker Paddy Power has put him on 25/1.
Of course many look to the vibrant church of the southern hemisphere for the next Pope and Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana who was also at the Congress in Dublin is a major contender. However, Pope John Paul was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years, and although he was followed by a German, the odds of the cardinals breaking with tradition for a third time of appointing Italians and then a non-European seem high. Yet a black pope would be a wonderful sign of change but unlikely to mean any change in teaching, but maybe more colourful liturgies for a start.
If the consistory of cardinals do decide on a Pope from the developing world, Cardinal Peter Turkson, Archbishop emeritus of Ghana and president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, will surely be their go to man.
He was President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference (1997-2005) and member of the Pontifical Commission for Methodist-Catholic Dialogue, Chancellor of the Catholic University College of Ghana and treasurer of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar. Cardinal Turkson was created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in 2003.
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