Conclave Meets: The Cardinals Who Would Be Pope

By Flavia Krause Jackson - 2013-03-12T08:58:32Z

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A New Pope

The 115 voting cardinals of the Catholic church begin today their secret conclave to choose the successor to Pope Benedict XVI. There is a saying in Rome that “he who enters the conclave a pope exits as a cardinal” and it is notoriously tricky to try to handicap the papal vote.In secret, under the frescoes of Michelangelo, the so- called princes of the church, hailing from as far as the Philippines, may hold a single vote today with as many as four ballots on succeeding days.This conclave has been presented as a struggle between cardinals looking to overhaul the Vatican bureaucracy known as the Curia, and those trying to maintain its influence, according to Vatican analysts. Electing a non-European, while a novelty, would not necessarily presage a change of course for the millennia-old institution shaken by the abdication of German- born Benedict.Pope Benedict XVI was chosen on the second day of the last conclave in 2005, while John Paul II was selected on the third day of the 1978 conclave.Here are brief biographies of some of the men who may be in the running, based on betting websites and consulting Vatican watchers.