LONDON - With Pope Benedict XVI set to step down on Wednesday, questions are swirling over what's next for the soon-to-be ex-pontiff and who will be chosen as the next leader of the Catholic Church.
"There is a tendency of the electors in a conclave to choose somebody who is unlike the predecessor," papal historian Michael Walsh said. "If you are not going to elect an Italian necessarily, then I don't think there is any problem about whether he comes from Africa or from Asia or from America."
Walsh added that the cardinals would be more likely to choose an "extrovert ... who relates much more easily to the people than cardinal Ratzinger did."
A conclave, which follows the pope's historic Feb. 11 announcement that he would be stepping down, will begin next month to choose Pope Benedict's successor is an anomaly since it's been centuries since a sitting pontiff resigned.