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Rome Reports

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Will the next President of the United States be Catholic?

On Monday, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush announced what everyone already knew: He will seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

Bush is now part of a long list of Republican presidential hopefuls. Interestingly, quite a few of those contenders are Roman Catholic. It's possible that by 2017, the United States could have its first Catholic president in more than 50 years

Here is a quick glance at the Catholic contenders. 

Jeb Bush converted to Roman Catholicism, his wife's faith, in 1994. Bush recently said that "I loved the absolute nature of the Catholic Church.â? 

Another top-tier candidate is Sen. Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American who was baptized Catholic and attended Mormon services as a child. He was married in the Catholic Church and today considers himself a practicing Catholic.

In addition to Bush and Rubio, there are several other Catholic Republicans who political handicappers consider less likely to win.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who finished second in the 2012 Republican primary, is known as an outspoken and devout Catholic. He officially entered the Republican field last month.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has not yet announced, but he is expected to enter the race. He has spoken about the importance of his faith several times and said he considers Archbishop John Myers "a dear friend.�

Also likely to enter the race is Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. An Indian-American, he converted to Catholicism from Hinduism in what he called a "very intellectual-based journey.�

While most of the Catholics running for president are Republicans, there is still at least one Catholic Democratic candidate.  

Hillary Clinton, a Methodist, is heavily favored to win the Democratic nomination. But a long-shot challenger, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, is Roman Catholic.

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