Pope Selection Bracket
With just around a week before the Cardinals enter a conclave to choose a new Pope, speculation is flying fast and furious about who exactly will succeed Pope John Paul II. While there are certainly early favorites, it's important to understand that while the Cardinals do the voting, Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit is directly guiding their choice. Perhaps that's why the favorites rarely win, as God's plan doesn't necessarily correspond to the Cardinals' plans.
So, who will the next Pope be? For me, the easiest way to speculate was to put the candidates in a form I'm used to dealing with: an NCAA Tournament-style bracket. To do this, I created four regions (the Northeast, Northwest, Southeast & Southwest) of 29 Cardinals each and seeded them from 1 to 29. The top three seeds in each region received a first round bye. Then, to balance out the regions, I had to shift some Cardinals around. For example, the Irish, English, Scottish, German & French Cardinals competed in the Northwest Regional. Cardinals from Spain & Portugal competed against their fellow Spanish & Portugese speakers in the Southwest Regional.
From then on, it was just a question of looking at the individual matchups and picking winners...
The Northeast Region was dominated by the Italians. Even so, there were still some surprises. I seeded all of the Polish Cardinals very low under the assumption that another Pole wouldn't be chosen so soon. But, I had a good feeling about Zenon Grocholewski. Perhaps it's because he hails from my ancestoral home of Poznan. Grocholewski shockingly advanced to the regional quarterfinals before losing to Giovanni Battista Re.
The big favorite in this region, Dionigi Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan, advanced easily until the regional final. There, I saw him going down to the sweet-faced Giacomo Biffi, Archbishop emeritus of Bologna. Biffi advanced to the Final Four as the candidate of tradition. He's older and Italian and would provide a comforting face of the Church as it ponders its future.
The Northwest Regional was dominated by Cardinals from America. Conventional wisdom said that the Americans had no chance. But, perhaps the Holy Spirit had other ideas. After all, the United States is the most powerful nation in the world. She's capable of more good (and more evil) than anyone else. Wouldn't an American Pope be an excellent choice to guide the nation toward the right path?
So, while Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany was the overwhelming favorite in this region, American Cardinal Adam Joseph Maida, Archbishop of Detroit was the eventual winner. Maida was a shock even to the Americans. I would have expected that if an American won the region, it would be Edmund Casimir Szoka, simply because the electors might have just assumed he wasn't a Yank and voted for him on that basis. But nope, the choice was Maida, who, earlier in his career received a J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law and served as the ninth bishop of the diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Go Pack!
Cardinal Francis Arinze was the overwhelming favorite to come out of the Southeast. But, as the saying goes, "He who goes into the conclave a pope comes out a cardinal". And so it went with Arinze. In a region that included the infamous Mystery Cardinal, it was another African, Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Archbishop of Cape Coast (Ghana) who emerged victorious.
At just 56-years old, Turkson represented the future of the Church. Personally, I liked this choice as my mother's parish is very well-served by a priest from Ghana.
If Cardinal Turkson represents the future of the Church, then the Cardinals in the Southwest Regional represent the present. Dominated by Cardinals from Central & South America, this region was considered the most volatile.
Cardinal Hummes from Brazil and Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina were favorites, but they lost out to Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., Archbishop of Tegucigalpa (Honduras). Maradiaga, a three seed, was well-regarded, if not an outright favorite.
So, my final four consisted of an Italian, an American, a Cardinal from Ghana and one from Honduras. The world semi-finals offered some classic matchups of traditional v. modern and the haves versus the have nots. I believed the Church is just not quite ready for an African cardinal, and so Biffi defeated Turkson. However, the world is not ready for an American Cardinal either, hence Maradiaga's advancement into the final. After Pope John Paul, the Cardinals weren't willing to go back to a time when the Pope was always from Italy. Cardinal Maradiaga better represented the realities of the Church and its challenges in the 21st century. So, ladies and gentlemen, according to my analysis, our new Pope will be Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga. I further predict that he will be known to the world as Pope John Paul III.
Update: This bracket just puts mine to shame.
Posted by at April 10, 2005 01:17 PM
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|# April 10th, 2005 1:28 PM james|
|so biffi is gonzaga of pope madness. in more ways than one! |
|# April 10th, 2005 1:29 PM james|
|since you don't need to be a cardinal to be the pope, i think that you made a grave error in leaving me out. im a sleeper, baby. |
|# April 10th, 2005 1:32 PM kris|
|unless you got baptized yesterday in the Tidal Basin, you've got no shot, my dear |
|# April 10th, 2005 1:41 PM kris|
|i'm totally going to hell for this, aren't i? |
|# April 10th, 2005 5:42 PM james|
|no way, im sure god appreciates the input. it's hard to pick a pope |