Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday his resignation from the papacy.
The 85-year-old pope alluded to the fact that his age and poor health were the reasoning behind his decision.
With his departure from the Vatican, many are wondering who may replace him. Here is a list of potential candidates that may be elected to become the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
[For live coverage of the papal elections, see here]
1. Cardinal Peter Turkson
Turkson is the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and the Archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana. In October Turkson made headlines when he showed a controversial video about Islam growth in Europe to a group of bishops at the Vatican. With that aside, his high stature in the church may make him the first black pope.
2. Cardinal Marc Ouellet
Ouellet originates from Canada and was elected and appointed to secretary of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian Unity. He was consecrated in March 2001 by Pope John Paul II. Ouellet co-hosted an Americas Conference alongside Pope Benedict XVI in December 2012.
3. Cardinal Francis Arinze
Cardinal Arinze is 80 years old and from Nigeria. He is the prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He has also served as president delegate of the 2nd Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. He may be a rival to Cardinal Turkson based on their similar backgrounds.
4. Archbishop Angelo Scola
Cardinal Scola serves as archbishop of Milan. He served in the College of Cardinals who elected Pope John Paul II to the papacy in 2003. He has doctorates in philosophy and theology.
5. Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga
Maradiaga is the first Cardinal to serve the Honduras and became archbishop of Tegucigalpa in 1993. He founded the Catholic University of Honduras, and has become one on of the most prominent figures in the Church from Latin America.
6. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Cardinal Bertone is the secretary of state of the Holy Roman Church and formerly served as Archbishop of Genoa, Italy. His position in the church allowed him to serve alongside Pope John Paul II. With that in mind, he may have a fair chance at replacing the pope.
7. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco is the current archbishop of Genoa, Italy. This multilingual cardinal was president of the Italian Episcopal Conference in March 2007. Bagnasco spoke openly about the necessity for Italian culture to change in regards to their negative birth rates. He warned that a society without children will crumble.