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Deep rifts set up drawn-out papal vote: Experts

Published on Feb 15, 2013 10:11 AM

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - What would appear at first glance to be a cakewalk for a staunch conservative, to follow in the footsteps of Pope Benedict XVI, will be anything but, Vatican experts say.

Of the 117 cardinal electors, 67 were named by the outgoing Pontiff, and the other 50 by his beloved predecessor and ideological soulmate John Paul II.

More than half of them are European, including 28 Italians, which points strongly to a successor in the same mould as Benedict, who yearned for a rebirth of Christian faith on the Old Continent.

But the arithmetic is misleading, given the water that has flowed under the bridges of the Tiber since the 2005 conclave that elevated the Polish Pope's German protege after just four voting sessions.

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