MANILA - A Filipino priest believes Cardinal Luis Tagle has a shot at becoming the next Pope after the resignation of Pope Benedict.
Fr. Aris Sison, rector of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Cubao, said Tagle's name had been floated as a possible future pope even before he became a cardinal in 2012.
"His name has come up many times...He is known all over the world to be a really intelligent and good bishop," he told [email protected]
He added: "People have been asking me if it is possible. I say definitely."
Similarly, Fr. Jerome Marquez, SVD, parish priest of Sacred Heart Parish Kamuning, said Tagle's name has been floated for inclusion in the list of "papabiles" or persons who could be elected pope.
He said Tagle "is quite known in the circuit and is a favorite because of his abilities."
However, he also said he has seen reports that the next pope could come from Latin America or Ghana. He also noted that 52% of cardinals who will choose the next pope are European.
Sison said Fr. Timothy Dolan of the United States is a possible contender for the position. He described the US cardinal as funny, intelligent and witty.
"I have been reading his books. He has a way of making the traditional teachings of the Church relevant today," he said. He said the names of priests from Latin America have also been floated.
The next pope must get the votes of 2/3rds of the cardinals in a conclave after Pope Benedict steps down.
A Vatican spokesman said the new Pope could be named before Easter.
No campaigning for papabiles
In the interview, Sison said it is impossible to predict who will be voted the next pope because the cardinals are sworn to secrecy. He said possible candidates are not allowed to campaign or vote for themselves.
Sison said the next pope will follow the footsteps of Pope Benedict who is known more for being a theologian.
"That seems to be a mark of this Pope. Some criticize him for not being a very pastoral pope but he is a first class teacher and a first class theologian," he said.
Marquez said the next pope should also have the "physical, emotional and spiritual strength" to lead the Catholic Church.
"We need the Holy Spirit to see who has the ability to lead because one of the reasons why Pope Benedict resigned is because he is too weak to continue," he said.
Asked what kind of challenges the new Pope faces, Sison said: "Things are happening so fast in the church, in the world today, largely because of communication, because of the Internet. There are so many demands and I think there is a need for quick action and quick decision on many, many things."
"Some say they are looking forward to a young pope. Some say if we elect a very young pope, he might stay on for so long. The cardinals will have to pray and discern what kind of a pope we need at this point in our lives," he added.
Tagle, 55, is one of the youngest potential popes.
Other possible replacements are Peter Turkson (Ghana), Angelo Scota (Italy), Odilo Pedro Scherer (Brazil). Leandro Sandri (Argentina), Marc Ouellet (Canada) and Joao Braz de Aviz (Brazil).