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Some of the contenders

Cardinal Angelo Scola is affable and runs the archdiocese of Milan – Italy's largest – and before that Venice, both of which have produced several popes.

He is not from the Vatican bureaucracy.

Cardinal Odilo Scherer seems to be favoured by the Vatican bureaucracy. The Brazilian sat on the governing commission of the scandal-marred Vatican bank.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is a favourite of the pastoral camp. A well-known religious figure in the US, he's been called a happy warrior for evangelisation but is a staunch defender of Catholic orthodoxy.

Cardinal Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga is a human rights campaigner from Honduras who some consider a reactionary. Has been accused of anti-Semitism.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi is an erudite scholar with a modern touch – he tweets and quotes Amy Winehouse. He was Benedict's culture minister at the Vatican and can speak several languages.

Cardinal Luis Tagle – archbishop of Manila, 55 – was named a cardinal last November. With a Chinese-born mother he is seen as the face of the growing church in Asia.

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