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By IBTimes Staff Reporter | February 12, 2013 1:00 AM PST

Following Pope Benedict XVI's unexpected announcement that he would resign later this month, bookmakers marked Canadian Cardinal Marc Quellet as leading candidate to replace him.

The pope's post, once reserved for Italians, is now open to all and a non-European candidate, possibly a Canadian, is highly expected to replace Pope Benedict.

Bookmakers like Paddypower noted Marc Quellet of Quebec as the second leading Candidate for the post.

There are three Canadian cardinals among whom Marc Quellet has the chance to fill the post. Two other Canadians to be part of the conclave to replace Benedict are Cardinal Thomas Collins from Toronto and Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte from Quebec.

Citing health issue, German-born Pope Benedict XVI Monday announced that he would resign from the post Feb 28, and the new pope is expected to be chosen by mid-March through a special meeting of cardinals at the Vatican City.

Though not official candidates, a few other potential candidates marked by bookmakers are Joao Braz de Aviz from Brazil, Timothy Dolan from the U.S., Gianfranco Ravasi from Italy, Peter Turkson from Ghana and Luis Tagle from the Philippines.

Marc Quellet

Cardinal Marc Quellet, 68, has been the head of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin American since 2010. His well set connection in the inner circle might help him win the post, but his non-secular city 'Quebec' might pull him down, according to speculations.

Marc was highly criticized by a section of people, including women's right groups, in 2010 when he said he couldn't support abortion even in rape cases.

Peter Turkson

Peter is a Ghanian Cardinal who is said to be the leading African to participate in pope's voting. He is the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI Oct 24, 2009.

Joao Braz de Aviz

Joao has been the head of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI January 4, 2011.

Timothy Michael Dolan

Timothy Michael Dolan is an American Cardinal and he is the present Bishop of New York, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. His humor and dynamism have impressed the Vatican where both are often missing.

Luis Tagle

Luis Tagle is a Roman Catholic Filipino cardinal and he is said to be close to Pope Benedict after working with him at the International Theological Commission.

Gianfranco Ravasi

Gianfranco Ravasi is an Italian cardinal and president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

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