ROME — Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign has rekindled debate within the Catholic Church and worldwide speculation about the possibility that the church will reach beyond the European clergy who have long held power in the Vatican to choose the next pope.
With an eye to vibrant Catholic communities in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, the Sacred College of Cardinals may weigh the pros and cons of selecting the next pope from another continent.
Here are cardinals believed to be possible choices:
Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana is an African prelate seen as a top contender, and at 64 would be better positioned than older candidates to carry on the doctrine of John Paul II and Benedict XVI through what could be a time of growing Catholic influence in the developing world. Currently president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Turkson has spent much of his career in religious academia. He has a doctorate in sacred scripture and has been a professor at St. Teresa’s Seminary in his home country as well as vice rector at St. Peter’s Seminary. His negative views on the merits of using condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, though, have alienated reformists within the church. In 2009, he reaffirmed the church’s position against contraception, urging abstinence and fidelity instead.
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