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Who he is: Cardinal Marc Ouellet is a Canadian cardinal of the Catholic church, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. Ouellet is rumored to be a leading candidate to succeed Benedict XVI as pope.

His origins: Ouellet was born June 8, 1944 in La Motte, Quebec. Though he grew up in a somewhat non-religious family, he sought out the church after a hockey injury at the age of 17. He then attended seminary school and was ordained in 1968. Two years later, Ouellet left for South America to teach in a seminary. He then spent the next couple of decades as a professor.

His career track: In 2002, he became Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada, then was named a cardinal by John Paul II a year later. In the 2005 papal conclave, Ouellet was considered a papabili — a contender to be pope. He’s professed no ambition to become pope, once declaring, “It would be a nightmare.”

But for the papal conclave in March 2013, Ouellet is once again a strong candidate. He heads the powerful Congregation for Bishops and has strong ties to the Latin American bishops, a key constituency in this election.

His beliefs: He is considered highly conservative and has strongly advocated against abortion in Canada.

Why he might be pope:  No popes have come from North America, and experts say Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s ascension could meld traditional views with an acknowledgement of the global reach of the church.

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Who Is Cardinal Marc Ouellet?  was originally published on