Frenchman Tauran to declare new pope's election
Declaration of Habemus Papam to usher in next pontiff12 March, 12:45
French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, 69, has been chosen to declare to the world "Habemus Papam" - the formal Latin declaration meaning "We have a new pope" - after the conclave has elected the new leader of the Catholic Church.
Tauran's announcement will come after white smoke curls up from the Sistine Chapel, where 115 cardinal electors will this week vote on a new pontiff.
Tauran, a career diplomat, is expected to then reveal the full birth name of the cardinal who will be pope, followed by the papal name that the new pontiff will take for himself.
A senior member of the College of Cardinals, Tauran has the honour of announcing the new pope thanks to his role as a cardinal protodeacon.
His five minutes of fame, facing the television cameras and a world audience from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, is widely considered a very important task.
Tauran, the first French native to perform the role in more than 500 years, follows an impressive list of protodeacons with family names that comprise a virtual who's who of the Italian elite - ranging from Francesco Sforza in the early 1600s, to Alessandro d'Este, to Antonio Doria Pamphili in 1800.
In 2005, the most recent Habemus Papam announcement, Chilean Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez announced the election of Benedict XVI. His announcement was preceded by a greeting to the Catholic Church's "dear brothers and sisters" in several languages, including German, French, Italian and English.
After the declaration of Habemus Papam, the new pope is presented to the world and he gives his first Urbi et Orbi blessing.
A native of Bordeaux, Tauran was ordained a priest in 1969.
He studied philosophy and theology, and holds a degree in canon law. In March 1975, he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See and was assigned to the Apostolic Nunciature of the Dominican Republic, and was later transferred to the Apostolic Nunciature in Lebanon. His career then took Tauran on many special missions, from Haiti in 1984, Beirut and Damascus two years later and to numerous Vatican delegations at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations Conference on Disarmament.
In 1991, Tauran was consecrated as titular Archbishop of Thelepte and appointed by Pope John Paul II as head of the Vatican's 'foreign ministry', when he was made Secretary for Relations with States. He held that post for 13 years, playing an important diplomatic role during both wars in Iraq.
Tauran was named as a cardinal by John Paul II in 2003 and became Protodeacon in February 2011. He is also the president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
In a recent interview following the surprise retirement announcement last month by Benedict, Tauran said he believed that the new pope should continue the last pope's work in teaching the Catholic faith.
Tauran has also said that the next pope must be open to dialogue between various cultures and religions.
photo: Jean-Louis Tauran with Pope John Paul II