Sunday, April 10, 2005

What're the Odds?

Four of the 115 Cardinals who will attend the Pope run-off in Rome on April 18 have emerged as frontrunners. There are 117 Cardinals but two are sick and won't go to the big doings. This morning, online bookmaker offers Francis Arinze (Nigeria) at 11-4; Dionigi Tettamanzi (Italy) at 7-2; Joseph Ratzinger (Germany) at 7-1; Claudio Hummes (Brazil) at 9-1. There are also odds on what name the new pope will take. Valentine has long odds at 50-1. Sixtus is an even more distant possibility at 66-1. But both John Paul and Benedict look good at 3-1. Here's what the guys in-the-know (as in, bookies) say: John Paul II promoted Tettamanzi from Cardinal of Genoa to Archbishop of Milan and that's the main reason he's viewed as a frontrunner. Under Tettamanzi the Roman Catholic Church would not veer an inch from the conservative direction of John Paul ii. Francis Arinze would be the first African Pope since fifth century Pope Gelasius I. He's another conservative with the same views on abortion, contraception and homosexuality as John Paul II. The bookie pope-poop is that he wants to improve inter-faith relations. German Cardinal Ratzinger led the late Pope's congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was a pope-in-training all during John Paul's reign. When John Paul suggested he might resign (which was baloney as we know) he asked Ratzinger to stick around…as a sort of vice-pope for five more years. Archbishop of Sao Paulo, Claudio Hummes is from the powerful South American group that now makes up almost one fifth of the electors. I have placed a bet with a relative that the next Pope will be Ratzinger. My relative is leaning toward Tettamanzi. I personally despise Ratzinger, but the name is irresistible. It's a shame he would not be known as Pope Ratz but he would adopt an alias. I'm liking Felix (at 50-1) or Blessed Innocent (at 40-1) which would be properly ironic. An article by Laurie Goodstein and Daniel J. Wakin in today's NYT (“Cardinals Hint at Profile of New Pope: Presence Preferred”) has the following example of Vatican compassion and logic from one of the princes of the church: “A reporter asked Cardinal Francis George of Chicago in a news conference last week whether the church would consider approving the use of condoms to prevent AIDS in places like Africa. "Your solution is to exterminate the poor?" he said, referring to the births that contraception would prevent. "The doctrine of the church isn't going to change, and so you work with it as best as you can." What are the odds that all those people who spent millions of dollars to crowd into Rome to revere their idol John Paul II were well heeled and well fed? What are the odds they didn't come from parts of the world ravaged by hunger, AIDS and all kinds of disease? What are the odds the poor actually want poverty to be exterminated? What are the odds the poor do not want to have children they can't feed? What are the odds the poor want to eliminate the possibility of contracting AIDS in addition to not having babies that may starve to death? What are the odds the Roman Catholic Church will continue to be motivated by power and control rather than by the precepts of Jesus?

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