Two West African cardinals, Peter Turkson of Ghana and Francis Arinze of Nigeria, are spoken of as among top candidates to replace Benedict as head of the Roman Catholic Church.
Bookmakers in Britain named both men as likely favorites in the upcoming election by the church's College of Cardinals, along with Marc Ouellet of Canada.
Cardinal Turkson is 64 years old, was born in Ghana, and is former archbishop of Cape Coast, in Ghana's central region. He is now based at the Vatican, and serves as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Turkson sparked a controversy at a gathering of bishops last October, when he screened a video called "Muslim Demographics," which claims Muslims will eventually take over parts of Europe because of immigration and high birth rates.
The church distanced itself from the video, saying it does not express the view of the Vatican.
Cardinal Arinze is 80 years old and hails from southern Nigeria, where he spent 18 years as archbishop in the city of Onitsha.
He is known for engaging in interreligious dialogue, and in 1999 received an award from the International Council of Christians and Jews for "outstanding achievement in inter-faith relations."
A growing percentage of the Catholic Church's members come from Africa and South America, and many analysts say cardinals could be ready to select the church's next leader from one of those continents.
If either Turkson or Arinze were elected, he would become the first non-European leader in more than 1,800 years.
Hope they will allow the holy Spirit to lead them aright in electing the right person.
Half of all the cardinal-electors (67 out of 125) are Europeans. A full quarter of those voting would be Italians. All of the elector-Cardinals were appointed by John Paul II and Benedict XVI. MAY THE LORD HAVE MERCY!!!