I love a good horse race and so have been glued to every article and scrap about who is “papable.” For those of us who do our theology with a fist around a double bourbon in a crystal tumbler while listening to J. C. Bach cantatas and quoting Chesterton, Belloc, and Waugh, this is the most fun we probably are going to have for a decade.
Folks within the Church usually begin their speculations on whether the next pope should be a young outsider like Karol Wojtyla, an older insider with a steady hand like Joseph Ratzinger, someone from somewhere where the church is growing, or a familiar Italian bureaucrat like most past popes. Intrade says that pasta baby has a 35% chance of being elected while also admitting there is about a 14% chance the next pope is from the USA or Canada. The website Paddy Power has even more specific opportunities to bet on potential popes, and it is a lot of fun to watch the odds move. Still, I caution any probabilities on this because of the old expression “He who goes into conclave a pope comes out a cardinal.”
At his election Leo the X famously declared, “Let us enjoy the papacy since God has given it to us” and proceeded to have all his enemies die of food poisoning. My hope is that the next pope is as mean as Urban VI, the first pope of the Western schism. Once elected, Urban was prone to outbursts of rage, which prompted the cardinals to think they had made a mistake, so they elected another pope. It was a bad decision that ultimately led to three guys claiming the papal throne at the same time but is impossible to repeat under current rules.
My pick for Pope Sonofabitch the 1st is really who the Church needs: Archbishop AndrÃ©-Joseph LÃ©onard of Mechelen-Brussels. The guy is NOT a cardinal and has been passed over a few times. When even liberal Catholics think that Benedict XVI hasn’t awarded him a red hat because he is too conservative, the Archbishop has to be doing something right. He’s the right man for the right time for the only job that matters.