A Canadian pope?

Prime Minister Harper says he's shocked to hear Pope Benedict is renouncing the papacy due to his declining health.

Harper has issued a statement where he describes a 2009 meeting with a man he calls "deeply spiritual," and he says the pontiff has dedicated his life to serving God and his faith and says he will be missed.

Benedict became the first pontiff to step down in 600 years when he declared he would resign Feb. 28, citing a lack of strength to do the job.

Harper notes that during his papacy two Canadian saints, Brother Andre Bessette and Kateri Tekakwitha, were canonized and Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto was elevated to the College of Cardinals.

Now Canadians might have another question on their mind: Is one of their countrymen set to become the next pontiff?

Marc Cardinal Ouellet is being touted as one of the likeliest candidates, perhaps even the favourite, to succeed Benedict.

A pair of foreign bookmakers have ranked Ouellet as one of their three likeliest candidates.

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