The new pope will be chosen through a conclave, a special gathering of cardinals who are sequestered in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican until they agree on a successor.
The surprise resignation may reopen rifts within the church as pressure builds to name a pope from the developing world where Catholicism is growing, offsetting declines in Europe and the U.S. Ghanian Cardinal Peter Turkson is the favorite to become pope after Benedict XVI resigns at the end of the month.
Nigeria’s Francis Arinze, 80 is slowly approaching an elderly age, but seems to be in the running.
Read:What Is A Conclave?
Turkson has said that “if God would wish to see a black man also as pope, thanks be to God.” The Catholic Church chronicler Rocco Palmo called Turkson the lone Scripture scholar in the Pope’s “Senate” and believes that his status as a potential “papabile” has been elevated due to his appointment as spokesman for Second Synod for Africa in 2009.