Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Papal Predictions: Pontifical Bracketology

Crusty feels he should be first out of the gate in the papal prediction derby.  But first of all, he needs to highlight just a few ways Europe kicks America's ass:

1)  posting the alcoholic content of beer along with the price in pubs;
2)  excellent rail travel;
3)  being able to gamble on anything, anywhere.

A mentor once told COD when he was a young seminarian, "You should have a nominal vice, like smoking or martinis or small-stakes gambling, because if you don't, we all know nobody's perfect, especially clergy, and people will wonder what really weird secret stuff is your vice."  Crusty settled on martinis and small-stakes gambling.  It's even better when combined, COD spent a magical night -- literally, from about midnight to five AM -- drinking free beer and playing craps at a 25 cent one-man craps table that had only three chairs in a Holiday Inn in Sparks, NV.

Beer and betting?  Light years ahead of us!
COD loves the fact that in most UK and Irish pubs, you can bet on pretty much any current sporting event.  Likewise, bookies in the UK also take action on all sorts of non-sporting events, like who was to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury (and who will be the next Pope, FWIW).  In the USA, we seem to have legalized all forms of gambling except for sporting events in the past thirty years.  Show me a petition, and I'll sign it!

This is why COD pushed hard for General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Reno or Las Vegas in 2015:  since a new Presiding Bishop is being elected, we could place bets!  COD would change his name to Reno Mike and work in the sports book in Lake Tahoe for the duration of Convention.

So read Crusty before placing your bets on the next Pope.

A couple of preliminary remarks:

a)  anyone holding out hope for another John XXIII, put down the wacky tobacky and take a whiff of reality.  While it's true that the papacy is one of the last absolute monarchies in the world, the notion that a reformer could be elected and bring about sweeping changes -- while possible -- is remote.  Bl. John Paul and Benedict have appointed the current batch of cardinals -- Benedict 67 out of the 118 with a vote.  Neither of those popes could be labeled as a moderate or a reformer, and neither are many of those with a vote.

b)  what clergy, or laypeople, might look for in a Pope is not necessarily what the people who get to vote are looking for.  During the Presiding Bishop election in 2006, COD asked a bishop his thoughts on the election.  The bishop noted, "Keep in mind what is an important concern for bishops is not as important to others; a factor for us is how we think someone will manage and run the House of Bishops."  The rest of the church mainly sees the Presiding Bishop as primate, but the people with the vote -- the bishops -- have additional concerns and perspectives.  Similarly, what the people with a vote -- cardinal bishops under the age of 80 -- are looking for is someone who can manage the complex and difficult Vatican bureaucracy.

c)  ignore any media story that mentions the possibility of Timothy Dolan of New York.  While it may get people's attention in American media, there will not be an American pope in my lifetime.  Not happening.

On to some candidates and scenarios.

Jay Bilas comparing Papabiles' upside and wingspan.
1)  After two non-Italian popes -- after having only Italian popes for 400 years -- there may be a push to elect an Italian.  They have a disproportionate number of electors (28 out of 118 are Italian).  Heck, Crusty's been to Italy, where it's nearly impossible to get anything done, like convincing your taxi driver to take you to the correct hotel.  Maybe an Italian can do better at trying to get the Vatican to work.  If so, COD thinks Angelo Scola of Milan.  Historically Milan has at times served as a stepping stone to the papacy.  Danger here is whether electing an Italian dooms the church to an inwardly looking papacy when that's the last thing it needs.

2)  If a non-Italian European, (again a disproportionate number of electors: 62 out of 118 voting cardinals are Europeans) COD thinks maybe Christoph Schoenburn of Austria.  Personally COD would vote for Schoeburn, he's the closest thing to a moderate in the race.

3)  There will be considerable push from some quarters for a non-European, non-Western candidate, given the numerical strength of Catholicism is in South America, the fact it is growing rapidly in Africa, and potential for future growth in Asia, and that in the past generation cardinals from the developing world have advanced into the papal curia and gained crucial networking and experience.  If they decide to go this way, COD thinks Peter Turkson of Ghana for an African or Odilo Scherer of Brazil for a South American.  It's not Asia's time yet.

4)  The dark horse.  Remember that Bl John Paul II was an unexpected dark horse candidate; this has happened in the past.  Archbishop Tagle of Milan has been mentioned, but COD thinks the memory of John Paul is fresh and that Tagle's age (he's 55) may count against him, there may be reluctance for another potentially long pontificate.  Crusty would put his longshot money on Marc Ouellet of Canada.

But it's prediction time.  Crusty predicted Justin Welby for Archbishop of Canterbury, so it's time to get out ahead of the pack:  COD predicts

Cardinal Scola; or, if they go with a non-European, Cardinal Scherer of Brazil; or someone else.

And remember, all predictions guaranteed or your money back.


  1. Crusty, I am glad to know someone else is vastly entertained by U.K. betting on the conclave. To date, Paddy Power offers its patrons these options:
    Next Pope (My hope: Any cardinal from Africa)
    Papal Name of Next Pope (Augustine)
    Length Of Papal Conclave (14 days)
    St. Malachy & Nostradamus Doubles
    [Explanations: If the cardinals elect the First Black Pope, we will refund all losing bets on the Next Pope market; applies to the candidate being the next permanently appointed Pope after Benedict XVI and taking the exact Papal name Peter.]
    Country of Next Pope (Any nation in Africa)
    Age of Next Pope (Meh.)
    No. of Ballots (Three)

  2. I think Paddy's has Ouellet and Arinze way too high right now, I think they're bigger longshots than that.


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