VATICAN CITY: Cardinal Kurt Koch, a close aide of Pope Benedict who will cast his vote for the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church, says there is no reason why the new pontiff cannot be African or Latin American.
Koch, head of the Vatican department that deals with Christian unity and relations with Jews, also said he had had no doubt that Pope Benedict would resign rather than rule for life, and said that future popes would be free to do the same.
Koch told Reuters in an interview that the challenges of the Church in the world are very different on different continents: in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America, and the question is where will the challenges be greater, on which continent, should it be a pope for, above all, Latin America, for Africa.
Koch, 62, a soft-spoken Swiss, will be one of the 117 cardinals under the age of 80 who are eligible to enter a secretive conclave to elect the next pope that is expected to start in mid-March.
There has been much speculation in the Church on whether the man to succeed Benedict should be a non-European, which would be a first in more than a millennium.