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Speculation is already swirling over who might replace Pope Benedict after his surprise resignation announcement Monday.
Some say Roman Catholic clergy might choose a non-European leader for the first time.
An early frontrunner may be Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana.
The 64-year-old is head of the Vatican justice and peace bureau, but some question how he sees Islam after showing a video criticizing Muslims recently.
Another top contender is Canada's Cardinal Marc Ouellet.
He is well connected within the church, but may have trouble explaining why secularism is so widespread in his native Quebec province.
The decision of who will replace the 85-year-old, German-born Benedict largely depends on which cardinal the conclave believes will best guide the church.