French cardinal to reveal next pope

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French cardinal to reveal next pope
St Peter's Square, where crowds will gather to hear a French cardinal announce the next pope. Photo: Xiquinho Silva

There may only be an outside chance of a French cardinal becoming Benedict XVI's successor but at least the honour of announcing the next leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics will fall to a Frenchman.


French cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran has been handed the job of proclaiming the outcome of the conclave from St Peter's Basilica.

The Bach-loving former Vatican diplomat will speak in Latin on a loggia over St Peter's Square after the conclave of cardinals announces a new pope has been elected by sending out white smoke from the Sistine Chapel.

"Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus papam! (I announce to you a great joy. We have a pope!)", Tauran will say and then announce the name of the elected cardinal and the papal title he has chosen.

The 70-year-old from Bordeaux has the official title of "cardinal proto-deacon", meaning he is the most senior cardinal from the order of deacons.

The college of cardinals is divided up into three orders: bishops, priests and deacons.

Tauran used to be the top Vatican official for inter-religious dialogue. He previously served as head of the Vatican's diplomatic service and travelled the world for late pope John Paul II.

His own election is seen as highly unlikely but if this happens then it would fall to another cardinal to announce his name in front of the cheering crowds in St Peter's and TV cameras from around the world.

Tautan's appointment should also not be taken as a hint that the next pope could be a French cardinal however. The strongest French candidate,  the Archbishop of Paris, André Vingt-Trois is not considered among the favourites, although some experts in France believe he has a strong outside chance.



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