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Papabili: the South Americans

Scherer a top tip, de Aviz, Sandri, Maradiaga in with a chance

Papabili: the South Americans

(by Denis Greenan). Rome, March 11 - Here are penpix of the four South Americans touted as successors to Benedict. ODILO SCHERER (BRAZIL) Archbishop of Sao Paulo, 63, this Brazilian of German heritage leads the world's largest diocese in the world's largest Catholic country and is seen as a modernizer with a strong doctrinal grounding, embodying the old and the new while tweeting prolifically. Seen as front-runner along with Italy's Angelo Scola. Familiar with the ways of the Curia, he has gained headlines for trying to push back against the rise of Pentecostal churches in Brazil. But he has an aloof air and some say he lacks the gravitas and charisma needed for the future pope. Has said, on the rise of Pentecostalism, that there are "lots of rumours that the Catholic Church is coming to an end. No, the Catholic Church is alive and well". JOAO BRAZ DE AVIZ (BRAZIL) Archbishop of Brasilia, 65, this energetic pastor who survived a robbery shoot-out as a young priest has gained plaudits with his work for the poor and tried to reach out to the breakaway liberals whose socially activist and allegedly Marxist 'Liberation Theology' was repressed by Benedict. Not on Twitter. Studied at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian and Lateran Universities and is credited with having admirers among the Curia, although he was only made a cardinal last year. But his bid has been weakened by a perceived failure to fight off the rise of Pentecostalism in his native country. Has said, about the storm whipped up by Liberation Theology, that he "personally lived with a lot of anguish" and "came very close to abandoning my priestly vocation and even the Church". LEONARDO SANDRI (ARGENTINA) Head of the Vatican department for Eastern Churches, 69, this Argentinian with Italian parents, a polyglot who served as the Vatican's chief-of-staff from 2000 to 2007, is also seen as a bridge between the older and newer parts of the Church. An advocate for boosting the role of women in the Church, he speaks English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, but does not tweet. A skilled and popular diplomat, his record as third-in-command under John Paul II, the most fondly remembered pope for 40 years, gives him a strong status as well as enviable experience in pulling strings in the Curia. But he is seen as an intellectual lightweight compared to his predecessors and has never been seen dealing with ordinary Catholics on a day-to-day basis, as he has never been a bishop. Has said, on women: "They must have a much more important role in the life of the Church...so that they can contribute to Church life in so many areas which are now, in part, open only to men". OSCAR ANDRES RODRIGUEZ MARADIAGA (HONDURAS) Archbishop of Teguciagalpa, 70, this former president of the powerful federation of Latin American bishops CELAM is regarded as a moderate who is perhaps best-known for his staunch defence of the poor and his criticism of capitalism. Was also tipped for the top job when Benedict became pope in 2005, but recently said he felt "unsuitable for the post because it is implacable work, without repose". He is a charismatic public speaker, but does not tweet. His support for ecumenical movements in Honduras and his emphasis on the importance of social justice play well with those who would like to see the Church take a more energetic role in remedying society's inequality and the least attractive aspects of global capitalism. But he is said to be regarded as a liberal lightweight by the dogmatic traditionalists who dominate the College of Cardinals. Has said, on the need to move social justice up the Vatican's priorities rankings: "Justice will have to be the agenda for the 21st century in all the countries of Latin America. Many times justice only comes for people who are rich. The poor have no right to have justice".

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