Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, 65, is rumored to be among the leading candidates to succeed Pope Francis, a move that would fundamentally alter the face of the Catholic religion.
The Catholic Herald, a London-based news source, reported on August 5 that the next pope will speak volumes about the Church's future.
According to the report, leading candidates include Cardinal Péter Erd, 70, a "conservative canon law expert" from Hungary, and Cardinal Tagle, from the Philippines, who has been "hailed by liberals" as a progressive symbol of the Church's changing landscape.
The newspaper claimed that Tagle's consecration would also signify that Pope Francis' "liberal tendency" would persist.
The article states, "A contest between Erd and Tagle would show a Church at a crossroads, not just between conservatives and liberals, but between the forces of traditionalism in Europe - the original heart of Catholicism - and the changing face of the faith, focused more in the developing world, but still largely conservative on LGBT issues."
Tagle departed his role in Manila in 2019 after the pope appointed him head of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in Vatican City.
A year later, Tagle was elevated to cardinal-bishop, the highest position in the College of Cardinals of the Catholic Church.
In June of last year, the native of the Philippines was appointed a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
Newsweek claimed at the end of June that a Black or Asian Pope was favored to succeed Francis, 85, if he were to quit, which has been speculated owing to his knee troubles and travel cancellations.
"If symbolism is significant, then Erd vs. Tagle would be a war of perception and identity in addition to ideas," Catholic Herald concluded.
The paper indicated that Tagle and Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson were the apparent frontrunners.
It is unknown whether Pope Francis intends to announce his retirement, which would make him the second consecutive pope to resign voluntarily.
However, it is certain that whoever is chosen as the successor will have a significant impact on the faith, which boasts a staggering 1.3 billion adherents worldwide.
Meanwhile, after the Holy Father recently stated in an interview that he can no longer travel like he once did and that one day he may have to retire, speculation about his future has been rife.