Due to Pope Francis’ frail health, speculation as to his successor is gaining momentum, and following an article in Le Figaro, French and Italian papers are already guessing at who the next Pontiff could be.
One name that comes up often — and indeed, has been suggested since the conclave that elected Pope Francis — is that of Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest.
Pope Francis was forced into a wheelchair a few days ago due to his severe knee pain, and the rumor mill has been churning ever since of a conclave. Guesses have been made in the columns of the French and Italian dailies as to who the most likely candidate to take over the leadership of the Vatican will be after Pope Francis.
The Italian papers reflect on an article that popped up in Le Figaro which made an in-depth analysis of cardinals who had a chance at the papacy.
According to predictions, the two major contenders are the conservative Hungarian cardinal Péter Erdő and the cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna, who is understood to be a progressive in church circles.
According to the press, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples, and Cardinal Robert Sarah, Retired Prefect of the Congregation for the Worship and Sanctuary, are among the other possible challengers.
Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the pope, now 86, has to cope with the difficulties and poor health of old age, while also having to handle complex international diplomacy. Diplomacy with China, the Russo-Ukrainian war, the threat of a bombing in Germany, the affair of Cardinal Becciu in the real estate scandal, and a number of diverse tasks are the responsibility of the pope, who has subsequently canceled apostolic journeys due to his deteriorating physical strength.
Péter Erdő, 69, was ordained to priesthood in 1975 and became a bishop in 1999. As Archbishop of Budapest-Esztergom, he has been the leader of the Hungarian Roman Catholic Church since 2002 and became a member of the papal conclave in 2003.