Feb. 13 - Following Pope Benedict XVI's shock announcement that he will resign later this month, speculation is rife that the Roman Catholic Church may elect its first non-European leader. Simon Hanna reports.
Tourists and pilgrims visit St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, just days after Pope Benedict XVI's stunning announcement that he is resigning from this position. Here at St. Peter's Square the pope is expected to deliver his final public mass during the traditional Ash Wednesday service. Who will be leading such events after Benedict is now the source of much speculation. Half of the cardinals who could be selected to become the new pope are from Europe. Leading contenders include Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan, and Christoph Schoenborn from Vienna. But many think that this time a non-European will be selected for the post that was once reserved only for Italians. Latin America represents over 40 percent of the world's 1-point-2 billion Catholics, the largest single block in the church. A Brazilian German and an Italian Argentine are seen as the leading Latin American candidates. While Peter Turkson from Ghana is often tipped as Africa's frontrunner. When the eventual successor is chosen by the conclave of cardinals, their decision will be announced with the release of white smoke from a chimney in the Sistine Chapel.