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Papabili: Africa and Asia

Turkson, Anaiyekan, Sarah could be first black, Tagle youngest

Papabili: Africa and Asia

(by Denis Greenan). Rome, March 11 - Here are penpix of the three Africans and one Asian touted as successors to Benedict. PETER TURKSON (GHANA) The general secretary of the African Synod, 64, became the first-ever Ghanaian cardinal in 2003 after attending a seminary in New York and is bearing the standard of the continent where the Catholic Church is arguably prospering the most. Seen as the strongest runner to become the first African pope since Gelasius I in 492. Like most African cardinals, he sees no need to tweet. A theological moderate with a man-in-the-street manner and a slightly impish sense of humour, he is said to have backing with those in the Curia and the wider Church who want innovation. But some see him as too lightweight and liberal, and he has not helped his chances by openly speculating about getting the top job, a misstep which was reportedly not well received in the College of Cardinals. Has said, on Africa's relative lack of sex scandals: "In several cultures in Africa, homosexuality...(is) not countenanced in our society. That cultural taboo…has helped to keep this out". JOHN ANAIYEKAN (NIGERIA) Archbishop of Abuja, 68, this personable spiritual leader , tribune of the African people, and public intellectual has been seen a de facto voice for civil society in African affairs. He is credited with helping save democracy in Nigeria. With Curial opacity and careerism high on the next pope's to-do list, he is favoured by his success in tackling his country's systemic corruption and anti-democratic tendencies. A Christian in a country where the political class has traditionally been dominated by Muslims, he has been called a "pastor with a big heart". But some observers think his engagement with politics might raise the hackles of cardinals who think the Church should largely stay out of national affairs. Has said, about endemic Christian-Muslim violence in Nigeria, that "the cause of the violence is not about religion… it is a matter of special interests and its cause can be attributed to the corruption of politicians". ROBERT SARAH (GUINEA) Archbishop of Conakry, 67, this head of Cor Unum, the Vatican's charitable agency, is viewed as the African candidate with the most Roman seasoning, having worked in the Vatican since 2001. Speaks French, English and Italian, but does not tweet. Seen as fairly conservative and fairly low-profile, with no record of controversial statements. Deeply traditional on the culture wars, yet strongly progressive on social justice, he is seen as a safe Curial hand with a reputation for getting things done. But does not have a strong personality, or the salesman skills the next pope needs if he is to be a successful evangelizer. Has been described as warm, funny, and modest in person, but not always comfortable playing on a big stage. Has said that a Western "theory of gender" is trying to push Africa "to write laws favorable to...contraceptive and abortion services...as well as homosexuality". Africa "must protect itself from the contamination of intellectual cynicism in the West". LUIS TAGLE (PHILIPPINES) Archbishop of Manila, 55, the youngest of the papabili, was only made a cardinal in November. A media-savvy cleric with a reputation as a man of the people, he is a frequent broadcaster but does not tweet. However, he has a very popular Facebook page. A strong, charismatic communicator, Asia's flag-carrier is said to have "a theologian's mind, a musician's soul and a pastor's heart". But his youth and inexperience weigh against him, as does his lack of time to forge Curia alliances and establish himself in Rome. Has said, on the future of the Church, that it must discover "the power of silence" in the face of people's "sorrows, doubts and uncertainties" and "cannot pretend to give easy solutions".

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