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Claudio Hummes

Papal speculation keeps oddsmakers busy

CASTELNUOVO DI PORTO, Italy - A book of numbers at his side, a pendulum in his pocket and his wife upstairs plotting astrological charts, Fabrizio Shamir predicts that the next pope will come from South America.

"I held the pendulum over a map for 30 minutes and it drifted south," said Shamir, known in Italian gossip pages as a numerologist skilled at playing the lottery using the birthdays of saints. "As a man, I think the pope should come from Asia because of all its poverty. But as a professional, my numbers and instincts tell me South America."

Cardinals will enter the Sistine Chapel next week and ask God to guide them in selecting the Roman Catholic...