(WASHINGTON TIMES) The Roman Catholic Church very well could elect its first black pope — or, at the least, its first pope of non-European descent, according to various strategists and analysts.

The Telegraph reports that two princes of the church have emerged as top contenders for the top spot: Cardinals Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana and Francis Arinze of Nigeria. Electing one would send a black man — for the first time in history, or at least since the early Middle Ages, according to The Telegraph — to head the church’s spiritual direction.

Church leaders also are said to be looking at Latin America and Canada to fill Pope Benedict XVI’s shoes after he resigns Feb. 28. Two candidates are Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican’s office for bishops, and Cardinal Odilo Scherer, archbishop of Sao Paolo, The Telegraph reports. Another is Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, an Italian-Argentine who currently heads the Vatican’s Eastern churches department, The Telegraph continues.

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