First candidates surface in papal succession - WNCT

First candidates surface in papal succession

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VATICAN CITY -

The crowds in St. Peter's Square are speculating about who will replace Pope Benedict XVI. Some feel the time has come for more diversity in the Catholic Church.

The names of possible successors are surfacing. Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana could be the first black Pope, Cardinal Leandro Sandri of Argentina is considered the top candidate from Latin America, home to 42 percent of the world's Catholics, and Italian Cardinal Angelo Scola is considered one of the strongest European candidates.

Pope Benedict is stepping down because the 85 year old says he no longer has the physical or mental strength to lead.

The Vatican just disclosed that Pope Benedict received a pacemaker before he became the leader of the Catholic Church in 2005 and that he recently secretly had the battery replaced.

There is no word yet when the conclave to elect a new pope will gather at the Vatican, but church officials say they would like to have his replacement before Easter at the end of March.

The Vatican says the Holy Father will have no role in picking his successor.

After stepping down, Pope Benedict will spend his time praying and reflecting at a former monastery inside the Vatican walls once renovations are completed. .

Vatican officials say the next pope will probably decide Benedict's new title. He could possibly be called "Your Holiness" as a courtesy similar to how retired presidents are often referred to as "President."

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