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Who is Cardinal Christoph Schönborn?

Who he is: Cardinal Christoph Schönborn is the Archbishop of Vienna and a leading contender to become the next pope after Benedict XVI.

His origins: Schönborn was born January 22, 1945 to an old and respected aristocratic Austrian family, which has produced quite a few church leaders. In 1945, his family fled from the new communist rule in Bohemia, so Schönborn attended seminaries in Paris.

His career track: After ordination to the priesthood in 1970, Schönborn studied under Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI). He also taught and served as the editor of “Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

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In 1995, Schönborn became Archbishop of Vienna and cardinal after his predecessor stepped down over child abuse allegations. During the 2005 papal conclave, he was considered one of the top candidates to become pontiff. But in 2010, he was publicly rebuked by the Vatican for accusing another church official of blocking clerical sex abuse investigations.

His beliefs: Schonborn is a staunch conservative, just like his mentor Benedict XVI, but is open to reform, particularly when it comes to the Catholic church’s sex abuse problems.

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Why he might be pope: As a protege of Benedict XVI, Schoenborn has been a leading figure in the Vatican. And his strong advocacy for investigating abuse allegations against the clergy may boost the church’s public image.

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