Leonardo Sandri, Argentine Cardinal, Possible Successor To Pope Benedict XVI

02/11/2013 02:23 pm ET
  • The Huffington Post

With Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, Argentina’s Leonardo Sandri may have a chance at becoming the first Latin American to head the Holy See.

A descendant of Italians, Cardinal Sandri began his ecclesiastical studies in Buenos Aires and joined the priesthood in 1967, according to Argentina’s Diario Uno.

Sandri later earned a doctorate in Cannonical Law and distinguished himself in diplomatic roles for the Catholic Church, building a reputation for effective diplomacy with heads of state, according to Terra.

He is perhaps best known for serving as spokesman for Pope Juan Pablo II.

But the 69-year-old Cardinal may face an uphill battle if he’s interested in becoming Pope. According to Reuters:

He held the third-highest Vatican post as its chief of staff in 2000-2007. But he has no pastoral experience and his job overseeing eastern churches is not a power position in Rome.

Another Argentine, Jorge Bergoglio, had been a strong contender for the Papacy when Benedict was elected in 2005, but he withdrew himself from consideration, according to Diario Uno.

Sandri isn’t the only Latin American with a chance to rise to the position of Pope. Reuters considers Brazilian Archbishop Odilo Scherer a strong candidate, and VOXXI views Colombian Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gómez as a possibility.

Pope Benedict unexpectedly resigned Monday, saying his old age and physical ailments prevented him from continuing to hold the office. He’s the first Pope to resign the position since 1415.

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