Benedict's brother says Italian pope 'a possibility'

Conspiracy theories surrounding papal resignation 'nonsense'

Benedict's brother says Italian pope 'a possibility'

Regensburg, February 12 - The elder brother of Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday he thought an Italian successor could be elected once the outgoing pontiff steps down at the end of the month. "I think it's possible that we'll have an Italian pope," Georg Ratzinger told ANSA. Bookies currently put the best odds on cardinals in Africa and Latin America. But they have named Milan Cardinal Angelo Scola as the European favourite to succeed Benedict, followed by Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian Bishops' Conference. Ratzinger, a priest in Regensburg, said he believed an African pope was a possibility "further down the road". "I don't think it will happen now, in this moment," he said. He added that conspiracy theories surrounding his brother's resignation - the first of a pope in six centuries - were "nonsense". Benedict on Monday shocked the world when he announced he would step down on February 28 citing declining health and advancing age.

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