TAMPA - Ever since televisions started broadcasting images of the pope, they've looked pretty much the same: An elderly white man from Europe speaks to crowds, or waves from a moving vehicle.
But the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI came as such a shock, church insiders believe his replacement may look equally unusual.
"Who that will be? Anyone's guess," said Jesuit High School theology professor Father Matthew Gamber. "Sort of opens the door to, 'That was in nobody's mind. What will happen next?"
Father Gamber is preparing to take 50 students to World Youth Day to meet the pope. This year, Pope Benedict chose to hold the annual conference in Rio de Janeiro.
"He picked Rio de Janeiro because the church is so numerous and so alive in South America and he wants to encourage that," said Father Gamber.
The growth of Catholicism in developing countries has some wondering if the next pope might also come from such a region of the world, including Africa or Asia.
Latino Catholics in Tampa Bay admit the idea of an Hispanic pope is an intriguing thought, but many aren't sold on it as definitive.
"Everything can happen," said Maria Exbosieto. "I don't care."
Exbosieto's been a Catholic since birth, and she can't even remember how long ago that was. Like many Catholics, she believes that sort of commitment is what matters, not color.
"There's no race, whether the pope even be from Japan," said Chyrene Marrero.
Cynthia Losario agrees. She's been praying for Pope Benedict since he took office, and hopes his replacement might rejuvenate a church that's faced recent turbulence and setbacks.
"Whatever God's will, we should follow, and I know so many people around the world are praying for him so hard," she said.
For now, Catholic leaders are asking congregants to pray and practice their faith as they did before the announcement.
"There's not really a whole heck of a lot we can do about it," said Father Sean O'Brien of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in downtown Tampa. "Hopefully we as a community will continue to be of the things of the Kingdom of God, bring about God's love and healing and hope."
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Randall Nelson's family say a dispute over cigarettes ended when Nelson was hit and then dragged 75 feet by an SUV his own nephew was driving.