Analysis: Choosing the next pope
Cardinal Francis Arinze (Nigerian)
Born on Nov. 1, 1932, in Eziowelle, Nigeria.
Gained fame while ministering to refugees during the Biafra civil war in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Has worked for more than 20 years at the Vatican, where he has been a key figure in arranging interfaith dialogue among Catholics, Muslims and Hindus.
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Argentinian), Archbishop of Buenos Aires
Born Dec. 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Known for his simple lifestyle. Chooses to live in an apartment rather than his luxurious palace next to the cathedral; does his own cooking and travels by bus.
Successfully managed the 2001 synod of bishops in Rome.
Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos (Colombian)
Born on July 4, 1929, in Medellin, Colombia.
As bishop, he took on both corruption among the police and Colombian drug cartels.
Heads the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, in charge of priests worldwide.
Cardinal Godfried Danneels (Belgian), Archbishop of Brussels
Born on June 4, 1933, in Kanegum, western Flanders.
In 1979, he became archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and president of the Belgium Episcopal Conference.
Represents the liberal wing of the church; suggested the Vatican could allow women to hold top posts and that condoms could be used against AIDS.
He is known for his writings in the Dictionary of the Liturgy.
Cardinal Ivan Dias (Indian), Archbishop of Bombay
Born April 14, 1936 in Bombay.
Spent his career as a Church diplomat in Scandinavia, Indonesia, Madagascar, Ghana, South Korea and Albania.
Is seen as a defender of conservative Vatican thinking.
Speaks Hindi, English, Italian, French and Spanish.
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga (Honduran), Archbishop of Tegucigalpa
Born on Dec. 29, 1942 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
He is multilingual; with degrees in philosophy and theology, and a diploma in clinical psychology.
Has taught mathematics; is an accomplished pianist and pilot.
Considered less conservative than other Latin Americans elevated by John Paul II; served as president of the Federation of Latin American Bishops' Conferences.
Cardinal Claudio Hummes (Brazilian), Archbishop of Sao Paolo
Born Aug. 8, 1934 in Montenegro, Brazil.
Franciscan, born in Brazil of German parents.
While he has consistently defended the poor and criticized human rights abuses, he is also considered a theological conservative.
Cardinal Josef Ratzinger (German)
Born April 16, 1927 in Marktl am Inn, Germany.
Widely known as the Catholic church theological watchdog. Headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the successor to the Inquisition, in 1981.
A brilliant theologian, he has chased down many partisans of liberation theology and has made a number of enemies at the Vatican.
Has been Dean of the College of Cardinals since 2002.
His advanced age is viewed as a plus, as it ensures a relatively short papacy.