One Of These Men Will Be The New Pope

cardinals

Photo: AP/Getty

This morning comes the shocking news that Pope Benedict XVI intends to resign as Pope later this month after a nearly-eight year reign as Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church.

This is a distressing and–to some degree–unprecedented–move. There are only three examples of Popes resigning in the history of the Church and they all came under extraordinary circumstances, none have done it for reasons of health, which appear to be at the forefront . In 1045, Pope Benedict IX was pressured to resign but was eventually re-installed on the Papal throne because his resignation appeared to be “selling” his office. Pope Celestine V, a reclusive monk, resigned in 1294. He had months earlier declared it permissible for a Pope to resign, establishing the tiny legal precedent that Benedict appears to be exercising now. Finally Pope Gregory XII abdicated the papal throne in 1415 to end the great Western Schism.

Benedict’s own pontificate appears incomplete. His project of re-ordering the Curia Offices (the machinery of the Vatican) seems only half-complete. He has said that one of the missions of his papacy was to heal the schism with a group of Traditionalists, the Society of St. Pius X. That task remains unfinished and seems unlikely to be taken up by his successors. His efforts at reforming the post-Vatican II worship of the Catholic Church seem tenuous and even timid, though he may have provided momentum to the cause.

Of course the next question is who will succeed Pope Benedict XVI?  Whoever is chosen by the College of Cardinals at the forthcoming conclave will have the delicate task of governing the Church while his predecessor still lives.

We’ve gone through the likely names, weighed the odds, and assessed the pros and cons of each possible candidate.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet

Country: Canada

Position: Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, formerly Archbishop of Quebec.

Age: 68

Likelihood: Paddy Power ranks him 5/2. He has done missionary work in South America. Last year we said that our money was on Ouellet. His rank among the betters has shot up dramatically.

What His Election Would Mean: It's a global Church now. His work in helping to vet and select bishops would give him the ability as pope to dramatically shape the Church for a generation or more.

Reasons He'll Get Elected: Most qualified. He speaks English, French, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and German fluently. He has done missionary work in South America.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: He might decline. (You can decline your election) He has given every indication that papacy is a 'crushing responsibility' that he would hesitate to take. Then again, that is exactly what makes him an attractive candidate.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson

Country: Ghana

Position: President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

Age: 64

Likelihood: High odds according to Paddy Power: 4/1, which seems way high to us even though he is a very strong candidate.

What His Election Would Mean: That the Cardinals recognise the future isn't in Benedict's Europe but in the explosive growth of the Church in the 'global South'

Reasons He'll Get Elected: He is a superstar in the College of Cardinals, a great communicator, and symbol of the global reach of the Church.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: The Catholic Church in Africa can be very disconnected from the Church that the majority of the European Cardinals live in. In Africa the top issues aren't sexual politics and theological disputes, they are exorcism, animism, the growth of Islam, and condemnation of Western economic policy.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri

Country: Argentina

Position: President of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. (He works with those Catholics who celebrate Eastern-style liturgies.)

Age: 69

Likelihood: Paddy Power has him at 5/1. A contender.

What His Election Would Mean: That after having opened the door for Anglicans to enter into communion with Rome, the Papacy must work toward closer relations with the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Reasons He'll Get Elected: He has extremely powerful and influential allies (and cheerleaders) within the Curia, including Cardinal Secretary of State Bertone. He speaks well in five languages.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: Any internal backlash against Cardinal Bertone's influence on the coming conclave could hurt Sandri.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi

Cardinal Angelo Scola

Country: Italy

Position: Archbishop of Milan

Age: 71

Likelihood: Paddy Power ranks him a strong 7/1, which seems exactly right to us.

What His Election Would Mean: A Church focused on re-Christianizing Europe.

Reasons He'll Get Elected: A strong Italian bloc of voters, and his relative ease with them. His theological background is in the family issues that the Church in Europe increasingly feels must be addressed.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: The Cardinals no longer believe the Church is truly a European institution.

Cardinal Tarsicio Bertone

Country: Italy

Position: Secretary of State

Age: 78

Likelihood: Paddy Power ranks him 12/1, which seems about right.

What His Election Would Mean: That the most skilled Vatican politician wanted to become pope before he died.

Reasons He'll Get Elected: He is the man most responsible for appointing a large bloc of Italian elector-Cardinals, and he knows where every body is buried.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: Anger and embarrassment of non-Italian Cardinals who view him as a potential scandal in the making.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Country: Argentina

Position: Archbishop of Buenos Aires

Age: 76

Likelihood: 16/1 according to Paddy Power.

What His Election Would Mean: Social Justice moves to the front of the Church's concerns. He'd also carry out a humble papacy. Say goodbye to Benedict's ostentation in papal clothing.

Reasons He'll Get Elected: Bergoglio was rumoured to be the (weak) second place finisher in the conclave of 2005.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: His 'moment' seems to be over.

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco

Country: Italy

Position: Archbishop of Genoa and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference

Age: 70

Likelihood: Paddy Power ranks his chances 14/1, we think it is just a little bit higher.

What His Election Would Mean: A determination to 're-read' the Second Vatican Council in a traditional way.

Reasons He'll Get Elected: Benedict's last appointments to the College of Cardinals increased the strength of the Italian bloc. Bagnasco may become their consensus choice.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: Suspicion that a former protege of Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, the staunchly conservative former Archbishop of Genoa, would be 'too-traditional' even for Catholic Church.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn

Country: Austria

Position: Archbishop of Vienna

Age: 68

Likelihood: Paddy Power puts him at 25/1.

What His Election Would Mean: A wish to return the Church to the papacy of John Paul II.

Reasons He'll Get Elected: He was a persistent but not hysterical critic of the Church's handling of the pedophilia crisis.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected : Increasing doubts about his orthodoxy. He recently intervened in his diocese to re-install an openly homosexual man to the parish council, humiliating one of his priests. It has been noticed. And two words: Balloon Mass (see below)


Cardinal Timothy Dolan

Country: United States of America

Position: Archbishop of New York

Age: 63

Likelihood: Paddy Power ranks him 25/1 to be the next pope.

What His Election Would Mean: He'd have one of the fastest Church careers in recent memory. From Milwaukee to St. Peter's in almost no time at all.

Reasons He'll Get Elected: He is perceived as one of the best and most gregarious communicators in the College of Cardinals.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: His youth has the potential for a long papacy, along the lines of John Paul II. Also, he would be an American in a very Italian Vatican. That's not seen as a good mix.


Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith

Country: Sri Lanka

Position: Archbishop of Colombo, formerly Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Age: 65

Likelihood: Paddy Power ranks his chances 33/1

What His Election Would Mean: Potentially a speeding up of the return of traditional liturgy in the Church.

Reasons He'll Get Elected: The future for the Church is in Asia and the sub-continent

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: Having left the curia, the central government of the Catholic Church, he has all but disappeared from the minds of the electors.

Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera

Country: Italy

Position: Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, previously Archbishop of Toledo

Age: 67

Likelihood: Paddy Power says 33/1, which we think is due to his low-name recognition.

What His Election Would Mean: He is known as 'Little Ratzinger', so his election would signal continuity and satisfaction with Ratzinger's slow and methodical 're-traditionalizing' of Catholic worship.

Reasons He'll Get Elected: To signal continuity. The fact that Ratzinger has resigned makes Llovera a more attractive candidate than he woudl have been had Benedict died.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: Not a strong personality; and a lingering unhappiness with Benedict's liturgical reforms.

Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera

Country: Mexico

Position: Archbishop of Mexico City

Age: 71

Likelihood: Paddy Power 66/1 Should be much higher.

What His Election Would Mean: The ascendancy of Latin America in the Church.

Reasons He'll Get Elected: He's fearless. He criticised corruption in the Mexican government so thoroughly that the president considered a law that would ban priests from discussing politics publicly.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: Hesitation about his strong 'social justice' message.

Cardinal George Pell

Country: Australia

Position: Archbishop of Sydney

Age: 70

Likelihood: Paddy Power pegs his odds at 100/1, which seems very low to us, as it underestimates how well known and well-regarded he is among the Cardinals.

What His Election Would Mean: A continuation of the direction for the Church established by Benedict, but with superior skills in the media. He's also likely to continue Benedict's extreme slow motion return to Traditional liturgy.

Reasons He'll Get Elected: He fits the mould of building social and political alliances in an ecumenical fashion, while holding firm to orthodox doctrine and practice.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: Like Pope Benedict XVI, he is a vocal supporter of the reconciliation of the Society of St. Pius X, a traditionalist group whose bishops were excommunicated in 1988. Since that effort has been seen as a source of embarrassment to Benedict, the Cardinals may skip him.

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza

Country: Italy

Position: Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy

Age: 68

Likelihood: Unranked by Paddy Power, another Italian who is being overlooked.

What His Election Would Mean: That the Cardinals agree with his diagnosis of Europe as a 'de-Christianized and that the Church needs higher quality priests.'

Reasons He'll Get Elected: He is yet another Italian who fits the mould.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: Not seen as a media-figure, which seems to be a requirement of modern popes.

Cardinal Angelo Amato

Country: Italy

Position: Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, formerly Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Age: 74

Likelihood: Unranked by Paddy Power, but our thinking is that any Italian between 65-75 in the curia or a major diocese has a fair shot.

What His Election Would Mean: Another intellectual papacy, in the mould of Benedict XVI

Reasons He'll Get Elected: He has the perfect resume. he has served in several Vatican offices, done ecumenical work with Orthodox Christians, and has all the right views.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: Another Italian.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe

Country: Italy

Position: Archbishop of Naples

Age: 69

Likelihood: Unranked by Paddy Power, which is a mistake.

What His Election Would Mean: That the Cardinals want a long-term steward of the Church, rather than an innovator (John Paul II) or an intellectual.

Reasons He'll Get Elected: He's a non-controversial Italian candidate with experience pastoring in South America. Great resume.

Reasons He Might Not Get Elected: He is not well known outside of the curia. Not a 'star'.

So you have probably met the next Pope.

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