a pope can be any Roman Catholic priest, the successor is usually chosen from
amongst the voting members of the College of Cardinals.
This group of 117
is a diverse lot. Although the Catholic Church is based in Rome, 83 percent are
non-Italians. (Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years.)
Nearly half of them, 56, hail from Europe; 11 come from the United States, 21
from Latin America, 11 from Africa and 11 from Asia.
Campaigning for the
post or even discussing the succession prior to the nine-day mourning period,
called the novemdiales, is forbidden.
fact, no one correctly predicted that Karol Wojtyla, the archbishop of Krakow,
Poland would become pope in 1978.
Politicking in the usual sense was forbidden
by Pope John Paul II in his 1996 constitution. Instead an "exchange of views"
is expected. However, some possibilities are emerging about the next pope.
Americans rank only second in members of the College to the Italians, they are
not expected to emerge with a papacy. A pope from a superpower could negatively
impact the perceived neutrality of Vatican diplomacy.
With over half of
all Catholics in the developing world, some speculate the next pope will come
from Africa, Asia or Latin America. Yet others believe the papacy could revert
Historians say that another key factor in deciding the next pope
may be the "pendulum dynamic," the idea that the new pope may be very
different from the old pope in order to build on the former pope's strengths and
remedy his weaknesses.
Annie Schleicher, Online NewsHour