Pope Benedict XVI Resignation: 7 expert picks for the next pontiff

Pope Benedict XVI Resignation: 7 expert picks for the next pontiff

Credit: Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Scola was named the Archbishop of Milan in 2011, a prominent post in the Roman Catholic church. "If we had to pick a frontrunner, it's him," Bunson said. "He first is a brilliant theologian and has the intellectual heft to be pope, which is crucial. He has the clear favor of Pope Benedict. Milan and Venice together have produced five popes in the past century. Scola is also committed to promoting an understanding across faiths. He started the Oasis Foundation in 2004, which helps bridge a dialogue between Christians and Muslims. Helen Alvaré, a professor of law at George Mason University and an advisor to Pope Benedict XVI's Pontifical Council for the Laity, agreed that Scola will be considered papabili -- an Italian word for someone highly qualified for the papacy. "It would not be surprise me if a Scola, or another great European mind also was determined to be what was needed for the times," she said.

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by ABC News' Alyssa Newcomb

WHAS11.com

Posted on February 11, 2013 at 11:06 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 12 at 10:27 AM

(ABC News) --  With 1 billion Catholics worldwide, the face of the church is changing.

It's something the cardinal electors may keep in mind when the conclave to elect a new pontiff begins in late March, said Matthew Bunson, general editor of the Catholic Almanac and author of "We Have a Pope! Benedict XVI."


The 117 cardinals who are eligible to vote for the new pontiff hail from approximately 50 different countries, and they almost always elect one of their own.

Joseph Ratzinger, an intellectual and respected cardinal from Germany, was the frontrunner for the papacy in 2005, Bunson said. When elected, he became Pope Benedict XVI.

This year, there are no strong favorites.

"The door, in a way, is very much open," Bunson said.

Take a quick look at some of the possible picks for pope in the slideshow.

 

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