All 115 cardinals will gather in the Vatican for the papal conclave this week and the list of possible candidates is long. Though any one of them could be the next pope, Vatican experts have identified a few potential favorites.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, 72, is one of three U.S. Cardinals considered possible contenders for the papacy. The Washington D.C. Archbishop has a strong track record as a leader and is familiar with Rome, having spent more than 10 years there, first as a student then as the secretary to Cardinal John Wright. Though Wuerl hasn't gotten as much attention as his fellow American cardinals Dolan and O'Malley, Vatican expert John Allen, writing for the National Catholic Reporter, has pegged him as the most qualified of the three to modernize Vatican business management and noted that, as a Bishop in Pittsburgh, Wuerl was one of the first to refuse to back down on the issue of sexual abuse in the church.
In this photograph, Cardinal Wuerl blesses Benilda Tiongco as she enters the Cathedral of St. Matthew for the Good Friday Mass in Washington, D.C., April 22, 2011.
Cardinal Wuerl arrives at St. Peter's Basilica for a meeting of prayer with cardinals gathered in Rome for the conlave in Vatican City, March 6, 2013.
Cardinal Wuerl precedes out after an Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., Feb. 22, 2012.
Pope Benedict XVI (L) gives his cardinal ring to Wuerl (R) during the Eucharistic celebration with the new cardinals at St. Peter's basilica in the Vatican, Nov. 21, 2010.
Archbishop Wuerl (R) takes off his robe after saying Mass at St Matthew's Cathedral, Oct. 20, 2010 in Washington, D.C.
Archbishop of Washington Donald Wuerl (R) poses with President George W. Bush, first lady Laura Bush and Papal Nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi at the South Lawn of the White House, July 18, 2006 in Washington, D.C.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl greets worshipers after an Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., Feb. 22, 2012.
Cardinal Wuerl walks to a Mass during a youth rally at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Jan. 25, 2013.
Archbishop Wuerl stands inside of St. Matthew's Cathedral after saying Mass, Oct. 20, 2010 in Washington, D.C.
Cardinal Wuerl proceeds into a Mass of Remembrance on the first anniversary of the Haitian earthquake at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Jan. 12, 2011 in Washington, D.C.
Bishop Wuerl speaks during a mass for his installation as Archbishop of Washington at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception June 22, 2006 in Washington, D.C.
Cardinal Wuerl conducts a Mass during a youth rally at the Verizon Center in Washinton D.C., Jan. 25, 2013.
Cardinal Wuerl marks a cross with black ash on the forehead of a Catholic worshiper during an Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., Feb. 22, 2012.