Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation on Monday, causing many to speculate about the very real possibility of the world's first black pope.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, the president of the Ponitifical Council for Justice and Peace of Ghana, Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec are making headlines as three prospects considered to become Pope Benedict XVI's successors. William Hill, Britain's largest bookmaker, along with Irish bookmaker Paddy Power named the three cardinals as the most promising contenders to succeed Benedict XVI, according to Reuters reports.
Although no black man has served as pope thus far, cardinals Turkson and Arinze have chances to make history during a time that some believe a change should come. Pope Benedict XVI named Turkson the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 2009 and the Cardinal from Ghana said he is mentally prepared to become the world's very first black pope.
In 2009, Turkson spoke about the possibilities of a black man being appointed as the pope.
"Why not? All of that is part of the package," Turkson said in a 2009 press conference. "And now it is Obama of the United States. And if by divine providence- because the church belongs to God- if God would wish to see a black man also as Pope, thanks be to God."
However, Cardinal Theodore Adrien Sarr of Senegal questioned if the world was ready to receive a Pope from Africa.
"I've been wondering about such a question since so many years now," Sarr said in an Associated Press report. "But is the church ready to have a pope from Africa? Is the entire world ready to accept a pope from Africa?"
According to a December 2011 study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, an estimated 176 million people in Africa are Catholic, which make up about one third of all Christians across the continent. Meanwhile, the amount of Catholics in Europe are decreasing.
A number of people took to Twitter to react to the possibility of Pope Benedict's successor being a black man.
One person seemed ready to accept a minority into the office of the pope tweeting, "the vatican preaches 'equality'..yet for over 500 years of the Catholic faith, there has never been a pope of Black nor Hispanic descent."
While many other people made jokes about the idea of a black pope, rapper Common spoke up about the possibilities.
"I think the world is open to more to not judging things by color and seeing that people of color do great things," Common told TMZ. "We're all equal. It's all love."
Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation on Monday at a meeting in the Vatican.
"In today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to steer the boat of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me," the current Pope said in a statement.