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.
The former Archbishop of Quebec, who pronounces his name "Wellette," is a frontrunner on many lists. He would be an excellent compromise candidate between a European and a Latin American, since he is North American but with extensive work experience in Latin America and at the Vatican. Currently the head of the Vatican office for bishops, Ouellet, 68, is well-known to many of the cardinals and is considered an intellectual in the mold of Benedict XVI, which may work against him, especially as he has said being Pope, "would be a nightmare." His track record in Quebec is mixed, with some reports suggesting that he was not able to turn around declining faith in that part of the world and critics saying he has not done enough on questions of bishops' accountability for sex abuse cases.
In this photograph, Cardinal Ouellet burns incense during a Mass in celebration of The Pilgrimage of the Holy Robe at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Trier, Germany, April 13, 2012.
Irish Marie Collins (L) watches as Cardinal Ouellet presides over the Mass for the "Penitential Vigil" at St. Ignatius Church during the "Towards Healing and Renewal," symposium for Catholic bishops, Feb. 7, 2012.
Cardinal Ouellet (C), the prefect of the congregation for bishops, is flanked by Professor Claudio Magris (L) and papal spokesman Federico Lombard, during a press conference to present the second volume of "Jesus of Nazareth," Pope Benedict XVI's biography of Christ, March 10, 2011 at the Vatican.
Cardinal Ouellet burns incense during a Mass in celebration of The Pilgrimage of the Holy Robe at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Trier, Germany, April 13, 2012.
Cardinal Ouellet walks in St. Peter's square after a meeting on the second day of pre-conclave at the Vatican, March 5, 2013.
Cardinal Ouellet waves while walking in St. Peter's Square before an afternoon meeting of pre-conclave at the Vatican, March 7, 2013.
Cardinal Ouellet during the Courtesy visit after the ordination ceremony, Oct. 21, 2003 at the Vatican.
Cardinal Ouellet arrives at his farewell Mass in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre Basilica, 45 minutes East of Quebec City, Aug. 15, 2010.
Cardinal Ouellet once said that being pope "would be a nightmare." He would know, having enjoyed the confidence of two popes as a top-ranked Vatican insider.