Cardinals have gathered in Rome to elect a new pope.The conclave election will begin today-Tuesday . 115 cardinal-electors will attend a special Mass in the morning before processing into the Sistine Chapel to begin their deliberations in the afternoon.
Below is the list of runners in the papal race.One of these cardinals will become the New Pope of the Catholic Church to replace Pope Benedict XVI who resigned in February.
Angelo Scola, Italy
Cardinal Angelo Scola, 71, is the most prominent Italian candidate and has been referred to by one Catholic newspaper as the “crown prince of Catholicism”.
A cardinal since 2003, he was appointed Archbishop of Milan in 2011. Cardinal Scola is a conservative, who has been close to both John Paul II and Pope Benedict, both personally and theologically.
Marc Ouellet, Canada
Cardinal Ouellet, 68, from Canada, has headed the important Congregation for Bishops since 2010 and has strong Curial connections.
A native French speaker who also speaks Spanish, English, Portuguese, Italian and German, he spent 10 years in Colombia and nine back in Canada before being appointed to teach at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Rome in 1997.
Gianfranco Ravasi, Italy
Cardinal Ravasi, 70, has been the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture – or the Vatican’s culture minister – for the past five years and so has strong Curial and academic credentials.
A biblical scholar with a modern touch, he has helped popularise Scripture studies through Italian television, radio and popular magazines – and is known to drop in references to everyone from Aristotle to the late British singer Amy Winehouse.
Christoph Schoenborn, Austria
Cardinal Schoenborn, Archbishop of Vienna, is probably the strongest non-Italian candidate from within Europe.
The son of a Bohemian count, he was born in 1945 to a family with a long history of high office in the Catholic church and the Holy Roman Empire.
At the age of 18, Christoph Schoenborn entered a Dominican order. He studied at Dominican schools and universities in Austria, Germany and France before becoming a priest in 1970.
Odilo Scherer, Brazil
The archbishop of Sao Paulo, Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, 63, is the most prominent Latin American candidate.
He heads Brazil’s largest diocese in a city of 11 million people – more than 80% of whom are Catholic – and which include parishes that are dealing with high poverty rates, crime, unemployment and a lack of basic services.
Leonardo Sandri, Argentina
Cardinal Sandri, 69, was born in Buenos Aires in Argentina to Italian parents.
He served briefly as a parish priest before going to Rome in 1970 to study. Four years later, he entered the Vatican’s diplomatic service – serving in Madagascar, Venezuela and Mexico as well as the United States between 1989 and 1991.
Between 2000 and 2007 he was third-in-command at the Vatican, serving as its chief of staff.
Peter Turkson, Ghana
The 64-year-old is the relator, or general secretary, of the Synod for Africa, making him a strong candidate to become the first African pope of the modern age, taking on a mantle that was held during the 2005 Conclave by Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze.
Luis Tagle, Philippines
At 55, Luis Tagle is one of the youngest papabili or potential candidates.
He is archbishop of the Philippines’ capital city, Manila – a 2.8 million-strong archdiocese – and he was made a cardinal only a few months ago, in November 2012.
Joao Braz de Aviz, Brazil
The 65-year-old from Brazil has had his reputation bolstered since taking over as prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in 2011.
Timothy Dolan, United States
Cardinal Dolan, 63, from the United States, is the archbishop of the influential New York archdiocese.
He has extensive pastoral experience, having headed the Milwaukee diocese before that.
Named a bishop by Pope John Paul II and a cardinal by Benedict XVI, he is one of the newest members of the College of Cardinals.