Tarsicio Cardinal Bertone, 78, Italy
Credit: Daniel Dal Zennaro/AFP/Getty Images
The current Cardinal Secretary of State is a strong candidate if the Holy Spirit wants another great European mind at the helm of the church, Alvaré said.
Bertone runs the day-to-day business of the Roman Curia, the Vatican's government.
He has reportedly been criticized by Vatican officials for his handling of issues ranging from sexual abuse in the church to Vatican finances.
In an open letter last year, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the in-fighting and pledged his support for his secretary of state.
"I've noted with regret the unjust criticism directed at your person," the pope wrote. "I intend to reaffirm my pledge of personal faith in you."
Although he's held in high regard by the pope, Bunson believes Bertone's age will keep him from the papacy.
"His age is against him," he said, pointing out that Bertone is the same age as his boss when he was elected.