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Top contenders to be next pope

History has yielded plenty of surprises

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Cardinals from around the world gather this week in a conclave to elect a new pope following the stunning resignation of Benedict XVI.

WND note: Is the forthcoming pope the final one before the return of Jesus to Earth? Read “Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope Is Here”

In the secretive world of the Vatican, there is no way to know who is in the running, and history has yielded plenty of surprises.

Yet several names have come up repeatedly as strong contenders. Here is a look at who they are:

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