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Papabili: the North Americans

Dolan and O'Malley among favourites, Wuerl and Ouellet outsiders

Papabili: the North Americans

(By Denis Greenan). Rome, March 11 - Here are penpix of the four North Americans touted as successors to Benedict. TIMOTHY DOLAN (UNITED STATES) Archbishop of New York, 62, this St Louis-born charismatic conservative with Irish roots, a somewhat folksy image and a warm personal touch was rector of Rome's North American College and was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world last year. He has been tweeting since last May. His record of robust management in the famously more democratic American Church bodes well for supporters' claims that he will show a similarly strong hand in steering the Church away from its current rocks and shoals. But he is penalized by never having had a Vatican job and an inability to speak fluent Italian - at a time when the number of Italian cardinals in the conclave is at a recent high. Has said, on the conclave: "Please God I'll be home by Palm Sunday (March 24)...If I'm in Rome longer, please send peanut butter. You can't get it here". SEAN PATRICK O'MALLEY (UNITED STATES) Archbishop of Boston, 68, this Ohio-born, Pittsburgh-raised Franciscan friar with Irish origins has experience in the global South, especially in Latin America, and arguably the most credibility on responses to sex-abuse scandals, both in Massachusetts and on assignment in the Church of Ireland. He is an avid blogger. Conservative, anti-abortion and anti-same-sex marriage, he also appeals to liberals as a Capuchin Franciscan - seen as the closest religious order to the poor and ordinary people. The Italian press have had a love-in with him, extolling his virtues as a man of the people and spiritual heir of Italy's patron saint St Francis. He once criticized Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, for calling the criticisms voiced by victims of abuse "petty gossip". But this kind of speaking truth to power may play against him, as could his image as a fairly guileless Vatican outsider. At Ted Kennedy's funeral, he said: "I appreciate the Senator's work for social justice, but there is a tragic sense of lost opportunity in his lack of support for the unborn". DONALD WUERL (UNITED STATES) Archbishop of Washington, 72, this Pittsburgh-born son of a rail-freight worker is a consummate communicator who founded and hosted a TV programme on the teachings of Christ in 1990 and an accomplished academic who is the chancellor of the Catholic University of America and head of the National Catholic Educational Association. He writes regular columns in Columbia, the major publication of the Knights of Columbus. A strong advocate for confronting sexual abuse full-on, he is seen as a theological conservative but not an authoritarian. His management skills in organizing the 'return' of disaffected Anglicans to Rome has bolstered his reputation as an effective administrator. But he is handicapped by not having served in key Vatican positions, his less-than-perfect Italian, and the possibility that his modernizing profile may not appeal to the conclave's vast traditionalist majority. Has said, on the issue of whether pro-choice Catholics should be allowed to receive Communion, "Our primary job is to try and convince people. The tradition in our country has not been in the direction of refusing Communion, and I think it's served us well". MARC OUELLET (CANADA) Archbishop of his native city Quebec, 68, this widely travelled polyglot intellectual has a high profile and good reputation in Latin America, having taught at a seminary in Colombia. He is head of the Congregation of Canadian Bishops and makes very frequent public speeches, but is not on Twitter. His intimate knowledge of the Curia and personal relationships with cardinals from all over the world are seen as boons to his chances. But he too has a charisma deficit, critics say, and is perhaps too cerebral to wield the pragmatic man-management skills needed to knock heads as pope, a job he has described as "a nightmare". Has said, in a controversial stance on abortion after rape, that "A woman who has been raped has lived through a trauma...There is already one victim. Do we need to have another one?".

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