Catholics were astonished when Pope Benedict XVI announced he is stepping down at the end of the month. No pope has resigned in 600 years, but next month, the world's 1.2 billion Catholics will have a new leader.
Two possible prospects to become the next pope could be non-Europeans. Marc Ouellet of Canada is the Vatican's top staff director as head of the congregation of bishops.
Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana is the top African candidate. He's head of the Vatican Justice and Peace Bureau and is a spokesman for the church's social conscience.
Father Bob Pelton, with Notre Dame’s theology department is acquainted with the cardinal. He served as a host when Cardinal Turkson gave the annual Romero Lecture at Notre Dame in 2011.
“He is an academic and well trained in the elements of scripture,” Pelton says. “He is also a very pastoral person. It’s a combination of academic and on the street.”
Cardinal Turkson is scheduled to speak at Notre Dame again March 1. He will return to the Vatican immediately after for the conclave.