Credit: Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco, 70, Italy
The Archbishop of Genoa has a "reputation for intellectual heft," Bunson said.
Bagnasco, two-time president of the Italian Bishops Conference, has a history of taking a strong stance on church doctrine.
In 2007, he was the subject of death threats after he led a campaign against proposed Italian legislation to grant some legal rights to unmarried couples, including people in same-sex relationships.
Italians form the largest voting block in the College of Cardinals, with 25 percent of the seats, and could help propel Bagnasco into the papacy.