For the second time in two months the conclave of Cardinals meets to elect a Pope.
For the second time in two months the conclave of Cardinals meets to elect a Pope. The last Pope John Paul, died after 33 days in office. The 111 Cardinals begin their secret Conclave in the Sistine Chapel on Saturday (14 October). They will be sealed off, until after holding two ballots a day, one of them receives a majority of two-thirds plus one, to become the third Pope of 1978.
SYNOPSIS: For the Cardinals, who have been assembling, many of the discussions they had during the last Conclave are likely to be raised again. Pope John Paul had no time to issue his own directives for the elections of his successor, so the Conclave will adhere to the constitution laid down by Pope Paul VI
Cardinal Jean Villot (on the right), a 72-year-old Frenchman, is in charge until the election is made, as he was after Pope John Paul's death.
No likely successor has emerged but if, as seems probable, another Italian is chosen, then Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio, at 65, is among the favourites. He is regarded as a moderate and might win backing in a contest between progressives and moderates.
Cardinal Sergio Pignedoli, on the left, meeting the Dalai Lama at Rome five years ago, is another candidate regarded as moderate. He is 68 and heads the Secretariat for Non-Christians, set up to make contacts with other religions.
Like Cardinal Baggio, he is multi-lingual and widely travelled, though if the Conclave again look for a pastoral Pope in the style of the late John Paul, these facts may edge them out of favour.
Cardinal Pericle Felici, 67 would win support from Cardinals who consider the movement towards reform in the Catholic church has gone far enough. He is an expert theologian and regarded as being conservative in outlook.
Another Italian, Cardinal giovanni Benelli is talked of by some churchmen as being a key man in the Conclave, wielding influence. At 57 he is the most likely of the younger Cardinals to become Pope.
One Cardinal to emerge as a possible Pope since the last Conclave is Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo. He is 60 and Archbishop of Palermo, Sicily. A former Vatican diplomat, he heads the city's school for Church diplomats. Like 70-year-old Cardinal Corrado Ursi, Archbishop of Naples, he has been mentioned as a possible Italian pastoral candidate, as John Paul was.
If the Papacy is to go to a non-Italian then Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, of Argentina, is a clear possibility. He is 57, and to his advantage comes from an Italian family and speaks the language fluently. He would be an acceptable compromise between Italians and the Third World.
The Primate of Holland, Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, if adopted would cause a complete break with tradition. Although a Dutchman he is identified with the Vatican, where he heads the department of Christian Unity. Classed as a progressive, he has promoted the ecumenical movement since witnessing the Nazi persecution of all religion in Holland in the Second World War. He is 68.
Britain's Cardinal Basil Hume, who is 55, may be the outsider with the right qualifications. He could fill the role that endeared Pope John Paul to so many, of a loving, fervent priest.