As of today, we are on our first full day without a Pope. We will need to elect a new one, and while it is officially a church election, it's also an election for the leader of a (very small) country. The Vatican. Thus, this qualifies for another one of Teddy's World Elections!
First of all lets look at the top candidates according to the official polls. What polls you say? Well, you have a point, there are no polls of voters, and polls of laymen are pretty well useless. However, the betting markets provide a financial incentive to pick the right person, and thus, can be used, roughly, to figure out who the top people are.
The Polls have the following candidates near the top.
Peter Turkson (Ghana) - Turkson would be the first "Black" African pope if elected. He is 64
Angelo Scola (Italy) - Scola is 71 and would be the first Italian pope in decades.
Tarcisio Bertone (Italy) - At 78 I personally don't see this happening.
Marc Ouellet (Canada) - Ouellet has been a favorite in every country except Canada since the start. He originally lead the back but has dropped back to 4th over time. His odds continue to drift.
Peter Erdo (Hungary) - Erdo came from nowhere to take 5th spot; at least, he did to most. I've had my eye on him for quite a while and think that he could easily be in the top 3.
Angelo Bagnasco (Italy) - Italian candidates are popular due to their long history in the job, but personally, I highly doubt we'll end up with another Italian pope.
Gianfranco Ravasi (Italy) - See above
Lenardo Sandri (Argentina) - Someone who could speak to the masses in South America in native Spanish could be a huge asset for the papacy.
Christoph von Schonborn (Austria) - Not sure exactly why he is on here but he does seem qualified enough.
Odilo Pedro Scherer (Brazil) - From another part of South America
Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga (Hondouras) - Same benefits as those from South America
Francis Arinze (Nigeria) - This was "That Black Guy" from the last Papal election. He is older now, of course.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Argentina) - Same benefits as other South Americans
Timothy Dolan (USA) - He is the top American candidate.
Luis Antonio Tagle (Philippines) - My personal choice, I think Tagle will shock everyone by taking it. He, however, is at the bottom of the list in terms of betting.
The remaining candidates have far longer odds than Tagle. My thoughts on the list is as follows:
Too much emphasis on Italians. I think another pope from Italy is out.
Too much emphasis on South Americans. I don't think that one is "needed" just yet, and thus, they are 'allowed' to pick someone else.
I think there will be pressure to pick someone from outside Europe. Given the above, that means pressure towards picking someone from Asia, North America, or Africa. A European, however, might still take it, so long as he is from a country that's not had a lot of popes, or, former political involvement with the position.
No Americans. Too controversial to pick someone from the USA.
Someone who is not too old! I think this will be a huge concern for the conclave, given the last guy just pulled a move not done in 600 years because he thinks he is too old.
Who is then left on the list?
So what of these 4?
Tagle has the best English of all of them. Ouellet, due to his position, has likely met all of the voting cardinals more than once. Erdo has also met them, once, when he chaired a recent church event. Turkson, however, has the huge advantage of appearing to be a new face for the Church.
So, is there anything else to keep in mind? Actually, there kind of is something. Many years ago, somebody wrote a list of all the pope right up though the new Ex-Benedict. The problem? He wrote this sometime int eh 15th century. Every pope since then has met the descriptions provided, more or less. The last pope on the list, the one who is supposed to sit while Rome is destroyed, is known as "Peter the Roman". Two of these "final 4" candidates are named Peter (Turkson and Erdo) Will one of them be presiding over the end of the world?
Probably not. But if one of them wins you can certainly expect to hear about it.