As Pope John Paul II remains hospitalised, his mortality is the topic of discussion in the Vatican and church circles around the world with names of prelates from Asia, Africa and Latin America, including an Indian archbishop, figuring in the list, a media report said.
Among those who figure in the list of cardinals likely to fill the Polish pontiff's shoes is Mumbai's archbishop Ivan Diaz, a friend of Mother Teresa, international weekly magazine BusinessWeek said in an article titled 'Why The Next Pope May Be A Surprise'.
However, when contacted in Mumbai, Diaz' office dismissed the report as "rubbish" and said the Archbishop would not entertain interviews on the subject.
The College of Cardinals will select a Pope, when John Paul passes on. But when the time comes for a conclave to anoint a new pontiff to lead the world's 1.1 billion Catholics, John Paul's influence will still be considerable, the weekly said.
He has appointed 115 of the 120 cardinals eligible to elect the next Pope, all with an eye to enforcing his conservative stance on issues like abortion, the role of women in the church, homosexuality and bioethics, it said.
The papal prospects are from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. They include Nigeria's Francis Arinze, a conservative; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, a Honduran known for his work with the poor besides India's Diaz.
Another newspaper The Australian comments that the media and language skills of the new pope will be more important than ever after a globe-trotting multi-lingual Pope.
Honduran Rodriguez Maradiaga, for instance, speaks Spanish, near-perfect English and Italian, and decent French, Portuguese, German and Greek, while Diaz of India speaks 16 languages.