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Five Top Pope Contenders: What Their Home Countries Are Saying


With the conclave set to begin Tuesday afternoon, the lists of papabili are being narrowed down and scrutinized by the Cardinals gathered at the Vatican. Back in the home countries and dioceses of the top contenders, the secret vote to choose the successor of Benedict XVI can be viewed with a mix of pride and trepidation. Here's how five of the most talked-about names in Rome are being reported back in their native countries...

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From La Motte, Quebec, the Canadian Cardinal has at least two of the qualities Benedict XVI publicly said was worth looking for in his successor -- healthy with a lively spirit. The Globe and Mail describes him as a proud traditionalist on issues such as women’s equality, birth control, divorce, women clergy and married priests.

He doesn’t rate his own chances very highly, says The Toronto Star. Still, another Quebec Bishop, Lionel Gendon, a longtime friend, said of Ouellet: “I know him well enough to know that if he becomes Pope, he’ll be counting on the grace of God to accomplish his mission. But it’s not something that he wishes for.”

The Ontario paper went to talk to his family, including his brother Roch. “My mother said it’s so big that I almost hope that he doesn’t become Pope. She knows that it will mean that she loses her son and she’ll never see him again.” he said.

A writer for French-Canadian newspaper L’Actualité is in Rome and asked random passers by on the streets surrounding the Vatican whether they knew of Ouellet, and whether he was papabile. They hadn’t heard of him, but then again, nobody had heard of Karol Wojtyla before he became John Paul II.

ITALY: Cardinal Angelo Scola

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After he was moved from the diocese of Venice to Milan, it was seen as almost a sign from Pope Benedict that he had big plans for Scola, reports La Stampa. It’s the biggest diocese in Europe, and one of the most important in the world.

He is seen as one of the strongest papabili entering conclave La Stampa reports that there is a bloc of Americans, Germans and other Italians likely vote for him. An outsider to the Curia, Scola has in the past woven relationships with Eastern Churches, and has sought to build bridges with the Muslim world.

BRAZIL: Cardinal Dom Odilo Scherer

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Agência Brasil

The Archbishop of São Paolo doesn’t rate his chances in conclave, labeling them in an interview with Folha de S.Pãolo as “fantasy”. On Friday, it was rumored that Scherer and Scola are the top two candidates. Since arriving in Rome, the Archbishop of São Paulo has avoided the press - the silence would be a signal that he is preserving himself, since self-promotion is often unpopular among the cardinals.

He is of German origins, with a restrained style -- that is to say “less latino” -- and is a master of the Italian language.

Odilo’s name is being repeated on more than one continent and Monsignor Antonio Luiz Catelan, accompanying the Brazilian cardinals, urged journalists to present him as a good candidate.

U.S.A.: Cardinal Timothy Dolan

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Described as a “garrulous presence” by the NY Times, the head of the diocese of the Big Apple is one of the few social media friendly candidates.

Although it’s unlikely that an American would be elected as pontiff, the fact that any are even being considered shows a significant shift in the process of elected popes. The “bear-hug Bishop” spent seven years in Rome as rector of the North American College, where he had studied for his own ordination years earlier, according to the Washington Post. However, he never worked in a Vatican office or congregation — experience that would have helped him develop ties with cardinals from other countries and raise his profile in a conclave.

MEXICO: Cardinal José Francisco Robles Ortega

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Another shot for the first-ever Latin American pope is in Mexico, a country of 93 million Catholics. Archbishop of Guadalajara, Ortega, 64, is one of a small group of the cardinals who have spoken out against the Church’s handling of the abuse scandals says La Vanguardia.

According to Univision, Ortega said that the Catholic Church needs to be “open and willing to discuss with the world, however inflexible on topical themes such as abortion and gay marriage.”

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

That Man In Mariupol: Is Putin Using A Body Double To Avoid Public Appearances?

Putin really is meeting with Xi in Moscow — we know that. But there are credible experts saying that the person who showed up in Mariupol the day before was someone else — the latest report that the Russian president uses a doppelganger for meetings and appearances.

screen grab of Putin in a dark down jacket

During the visit to Mariupol, the Presidential office only released screen grabs of a video

Russian President Press Office/TASS via ZUMA
Anna Akage

Have no doubt, the Vladimir Putin we’re seeing alongside Xi Jinping this week is the real Vladimir Putin. But it’s a question that is being asked after a range of credible experts have accused the Russian president of sending a body double for a high-profile visit this past weekend in the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

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Reports and conspiracy theories have circulated in the past about the Russian leader using a stand-in because of health or security issues. But the reaction to the Kremlin leader's trip to Mariupol is the first time that multiple credible sources — including those who’ve spent time with him in the past — have cast doubt on the identity of the man who showed up in the southeastern Ukrainian city that Russia took over last spring after a months-long siege.

Russian opposition politician Gennady Gudkov is among those who confidently claim that a Putin look-alike, or rather one of his look-alikes, was in the Ukrainian city.

"Now that there is a war going on, I don't rule out the possibility that someone strongly resembling or disguised as Putin is playing his role," Gudkov said.

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