John Allen in Rome: Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet has the brains, the languages and the life experience to be pope.
John Allen in Rome: Cardinal Roger Mahony has become a symbol of the church's failures on the sexual abuse scandals, and his participation in the papal election is stirring controversy.
John Allen in Rome: Today, meet Cardinal Peter Turkson, who figures prominently on the short list of possible African candidates for pope.
John Allen in Rome: For the first time, an American pope seems thinkable, and Cardinal Sean O'Malley has gotten surprising buzz.
John Allen in Rome: One of the men most talked about as the next potential pope is Cardinal Angelo Scola, but does he have what it takes?
So far, it doesn't seem that Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi is allowing the pressure of delivering the Vatican's Lenten retreat just ahead of a looming conclave to induce him to pull his spiritual punches.
On Sunday, before an audience including Pope Benedict XVI and several Vatican cardinals likely to be king-makers and even candidates in the papal election next month, Ravasi suggested that sometimes blasphemy is heard with greater attention by God than pre-fabricated prayers offered during the Sunday liturgy.
Benedict XVI’s farewell tour began this week, including a three-minute plus eruption of applause at the Ash Wednesday service, one that might never have ended if the pope himself hadn’t cut it short by saying “Let’s get back to the prayer,” and a love fest with the priests of Rome on Thursday.
John Allen in Rome: The pope is on a retreat this week run by a man considered papabile. Here's more about him.
John Allen in Rome: The Vatican spokesperson says there's a chance conclave could begin before the usual 15-20 day waiting period.
Q-and-A: Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner talks Benedict’s record on sex abuse and the fallout from last’s year sex abuse summit.