Here are a dozen of the men whom scholars, journalists and other Vatican watchers mention as leading candidates to succeed Pope John Paul II, grouped by region. The election of an American is considered unlikely.
ENNIO ANTONELLI, 68, archbishop of Florence, Italy. A popular religious scholar in Italy. Loves the fine arts.
GODFRIED DANNEELS, 71, archbishop of Mechlin-Brussels, Belgium. Considered a long shot, but popular with cardinals who prefer less top-down Vatican authority.
JOSEPH RATZINGER, turns 78 on April 16, German, the dean of the College of Cardinals. A tough critic of progressive Roman Catholics. Talked of as a transitional candidate for a shorter pontificate after Pope John Paul.
GIOVANNI BATTISTA RE, 71, a Vatican official who until recently was in charge of bishops. Specialized in working with Latin America.
ANGELO SCOLA, 63, patriarch of Venice, Italy. Popular among cardinals who want to return the papacy to Italy and prefer a tough follower of Pope John Paul's ideas.
DIONIGI TETTAMANZI, 71, archbishop of Milan, Italy. A widely published theologian. Strict on doctrine, but an advocate for the poor.
JORGE MARIO BERGOGLIO, 68, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. A Jesuit priest who combines a scholarly background with concern for the Third World.
CLAUDIO HUMMES, 70, archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brazil. A Franciscan priest, strong on interfaith relations and the needs of the poor.
OSCAR ANDRES RODRIGUEZ MARADIAGA, 62, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. A Salesian priest, talented linguist and top Latin American church leader. A strong advocate for the poor.
JAIME LUCAS ORTEGA Y ALAMINO, 68, archbishop of St. Cristobal, Havana, Cuba. Well thought of for expanding the Cuban church in tough times. Special interest in working with youth.
FRANCIS ARINZE, 72, Nigerian, a Vatican official. For many years, the top Catholic leader from Africa. An expert on interfaith relations.
_ Compiled by David Crumm
(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
Need to map