With Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, eyes will now turn to who his successor might be – but who are the runners and riders?
The surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI starts again the process by which a new Pope is selected, via the papal conclave which is set to take place in March.
A number of names are already being touted as potential successors, and Paddy Power is running bets on who will claim the papacy. Here are the top runners and riders:
The front runner to take over from Benedict XVI, Cardinal Ouellet is the current prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, which oversees the selection of all bishops worldwide, as well as the Archbishop of Quebec.
He courted controversy in 2010 when he said abortion was an unjustifiable moral crime, even in the case of rape. He is seen as sharing the same views as the current Pope on a range of issues.
In 2007 he publicly apologised for what he described as past “errors” of the church in Quebec, including the promotion of anti-Semitism and racism, and discrimination against women and homosexuals.
If Benedict XVI’s resignation leads to the first ever black Pope, chances are it will be Cardinal Peter Turkson – the current president of the Vatican organisation which promotes justice, peace and human rights worldwide.
His view, from an interview in 2009, is “if God would wish to see a black man also as Pope, thanks be to God”.
He has taken a more liberal view than some regarding contraception – whilst he has reaffirmed Catholic teaching that condoms are not a solution to Africa’s Aids crisis, he has not ruled out the use of contraception in certain circumstances, such as a married couple where one partner is infected.
Another chance for the Catholic church’s first black Pope lies with Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze. Arinze took over from Joseph Ratzinger as cardinal-bishop of Velletri-Segni when Raztinger was elevated to the status of Pope.
However, at 81 he is one of the older potential successors, and in 2008 he retired from his senior position as prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship.
His views are in keeping with those of Benedict XVI, saying in a speech in 2008: “In many parts of the world, the family is under siege. It is opposed by an anti-life mentality as is seen in contraception, abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. It is scorned and banalised by pornography, desecrated by fornication and adultery, mocked by homosexuality, sabotaged by irregular unions and cut in two by divorce.”
The head of the Vatican department for Eastern churches is the Argentine-born son of Italian immigrants – providing a potential compromise for those who want to see an Italian at the head of the church, whilst at the same time resulting in the first Pope from the southern hemisphere.
Sandri is seen as a very successful administrator, having also served as the chief of staff in the Vatican. However, this could count against him as someone who is seen as better at keeping things running, rather than being the inspirational figure required of the Pope.
The Vatican’s culture minister since 2007.
He prepared for a recent Vatican conference on youth culture by listening to Amy Winehouse.
He is also a keen user of Twitter, and has 34,285 followers.
He has said that preaching in church had become formulaic and risks becoming “irrelevant”.
The son of a lorry driver is today the Archbishop of Milan, and a widely respected intellectual within right-wing political circles. He is the author of a wide range of theological works.
He has aired views that the church should relax its rules on bio-ethical issues such as stem-cell research.
The Honduran cardinal has been the Vatican’s spokesperson with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on the issue of developing nations’ debts.
He shares many views with Benedict XVI, on issues such as the use of contraception to prevent Aids, and abortion. He has said that a politician who publicly supports abortion excommunicates himself and that there is no benefit in the fight against Aids in using contraceptives.
In 2007 Bagnasco angered gay-rights campaigners by condemning same-sex marriage – comparing it with incest and paedophilia.
He has also expressed strong opposition to abortion.
He is the president of the Italian Episcopal Conference and the Archbishop of Genoa.
Close to the Pope in both theology and conservative beliefs, he was plucked from relative obscurity by Benedict XVI to be appointed Cardinal Secretary of State – the Vatican’s prime minister.
He has urged stronger punishment by the church of drug dealers, including excommunication. He was also the target of much of the leaks in the Vatileaks scandal – something he has blamed on journalists.
As recently as April 2010 he has angered the gay community by blaming the child abuse scandal within the church on homosexuality.
The Archbishop of Buenos Aires has for a long time preached a message of compassion towards the poor.
He has also taught the importance of respecting people who are gay, but has strongly opposed same-sex marriage in Argentina, and has said that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children.
Betting odds acquired from Paddy Power.