Wednesday, February 02, 2005


The Pope is seriously ill. He has pulled through before - against long odds; he may pull through again. I pray for what is best and consistent with God's plans.

He has been a Pope of great historic dimensions - within and without his Church. He helped defeat the USSR, and for this the whole of humanity owes him a great debt.

On other issues his record has been mixed, especially of late: I think that the Vatican has dropped the ball on their sex scandals, and that a return to a married clergy is needed to save the Church in Europe from disappearing. This Pope has not acted well on these fronts - in my humble AND NON-CATHOLIC opinion. (I am not Catholic, but have read A LOT about the Church's history - especially about it from the 5th Century to the 20th.)

Here is a list of the SEVEN Cardinals I feel might most likely be selected (in order of likelihood) in the inevitable and still sad event of the Pope's eventual crossing-over:

Juan-Luis Cipriani-Thorne (Peru, 12/28/43);
Jean Louis Tauron [you must scroll down with this link] (France, 4/3/43);
Polycarp Pengo (Tanzania 8/5/44);
Vinco Puljic (Bosnia-Herzegovina, 9/8/45);
Josef Bozanic (Croatia 3/20/49);
Crescenzio Seppe (Italy, 6/2/43);
Angelo Scola (Italy, 11/7/41).

(Links take you to official English Bio's/cv's and a photo.)

These are the youngest Cardinals with the best pedigrees/resumes, and they're from countries with special histories and cultures.

A majority of Cardinals in the conservative College of Cardinals may feel that the background and ethnicity three of these potential popes (the South American, the African, and the two from the Balkans) gives each of them a unique potential to deal with the issues and problems that the Church is likely to confront in the near future: maintaining conservative doctrine while innovating the Church's apparatus in order to continue to grow in the Third World and to begin growing again (instead of shrinking) in the old bastions of Catholicism - like most of Western Europe, (especially France - where the Church is under severe threat of vanishing, and where a "French Pope" might make a HUGE difference). The Italian Cardinals are, naturally, "hometown favorites."

Other bloggers may have more insight into the current political intrigues of the CoC's. Or gossip. This list merely represents my somewhat educated guess. I think the CoC's will pick a conservative from a country or region that has seriously dealt with all forms of outreach and a Cardinal who has been good at it. Additionally, the Church has been growing most in Africa and South America - which may give these two Cardinals an edge that they might not have enjoyed a few decades ago. All "look" papal.

That being said, I want to again extend my wishes for a speedy recovery for the Pope. I hope that not too many of you feel that thinking about who may become the next Pope is ghoulish. Mature people make preparations for the inevitable. The Pope's age and frailty mean that his eventual passing - as sad as that is for many MANY millions of people - is much closer than ever before.

UPDATE: more on succession speculation HERE and HERE and HERE and REAL ODDS-MAKING HERE and HERE.

******* UPDATE 3/31/05: Here's a link to the current odds on who the next pope might be. Most on this particular oddsmaker's list are TOO OLD in my opinion. In my opinion, a Cardinal is too old if he is older than 62. In my opinion, the CofC will ONLY pick an old Cardinal to be the next Pope is there is a long deadlock. I do NOT think that is likely - the Church is in great need of an ENERGETIC and young Pope who can be the kind of Pope that JPII was before he was shot (in an assassination attempt that was plotted by the USSR).

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