There have been popes from Africa before and Catholicism on the continent is currently characterized by deep social conservatism.
Amidst tens of thousands of supporters, Pope Benedict used his final weekly general audience to say goodbye. His resignation will become official at 8 p.m. Thursday. He will reside in the papal summer home for a couple of months before moving on to a quiet retirement in the Vatican Gardens. In the meantime, the Church's cardinals will pick a successor.