I was checking out the New York Times' coverage of the entire thing. It was interesting to read about the rituals of how to choose a new pope. Just picture this: 115 guys in red hats in a secluded villa, their decision heralded by a shoot of white smoke--it's amazing how much attention is given to the details. There's even the suggestion that cardinals are not immune to peer pressure. That guy Ratzinger arguably is the most influential of the lot. He commands at least 50 other cardinals, which although short of the 77 required to influence the early stages of voting, still counts for a lot.
According to this NYT report, the next pope can't be too conservative or too radical; he can't be a photocopy of John Paul II or present too much discontinuity. They even have a template of what the next guy should be like: "Charismatic and basically conservative. Intellectual but accessible. Speaks Italian, Spanish and English. Not too old, not too young, since the cardinals want neither a 26-year papacy like John Paul's nor a pope who will be bedridden in two or three years. A pastor, but one familiar with Vatican bureaucracy. Someone willing to let local bishops go their own way - within limits. Perhaps he would be from the third world, where the church is growing, but he has ties to Europe and could reinvigorate the flagging faith there."
I'm not really a close follower of the church. (At least not since I attended the State U--which was right after elementary graduation. All my schools since then made me wear maroon.) But I suppose it'd be useful to observe what's in store for a church that's still a billion strong.
Here's a look at the frontrunners of
the candidates who may soon be elected pope, bearing in mind that "the final decision is made by secret ballot, but before that time comes, many different candidates are considered and given an initial rating based on their personality, drive, conviction and other holy qualities." The ratings indicated are their approximate current standings as of Friday night.
Here are my two cents on the entire pope thing:
I think the two guys ranking 98 and 94 are cheating. They're one and the same, unless you're color blind and believe in the absolute powers of hair rebonding.
Although #78 is known to inspire new graduates, he's also a bit too enterprising and self-involved for my taste. I can see it now: he's going to make everyone wear aviator shades in church. Which may be a good thing.
#26 thinks that he's a shoo in. After all, he was close to God and he already exhibited magical powers. But I think he's too dangerous as he might recall the church's stand on violence and have everyone carry guns on their persons and in their purses.
It's also a close call between 36 and 37: the latter got really good reviews last year and if elected, he might reinstall Aramaic as the official language of the church, and without subtitles at that, although I think nobody and nothing can shake nor stir the former. So I think #36 is the way to go.