Who will be the next pope?

Religion, spirituality, and sacrilege.
April 1 2005 6:00 PM

Papal Chase

Will the next pope be black, Hispanic, American, a Jew?

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What probably really rules him out now is his age. Since the mandatory retirement age for cardinals is 75, it might be a bit awkward moral-authority-wise for the pope to bust the cap. So, we probably will never get to find out whether Jewish mothers around the world would have told their children that some day they could grow up to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a pope.

Lubomyr Husar
Country: Ukraine
Age: 72
Assets: Extra holy. Good age. Bridges East and West.
Liabilities: He's American!

Husar is the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and has American citizenship. His parents emigrated to the United States, where he attended the Catholic University of America, was ordained a priest in Stamford, Conn., and taught at St. Basil's College Seminary from 1958 to 1969.

John Allen, who touts him as a dark horse, summarizes the plusses and minuses thusly:

There are three objections to Husar's candidacy. First, he represents Eastern Europe, and after John Paul many believe that region of the world will have to wait a few generations to produce another pope. Second, he is an American citizen, and observers believe it would be diplomatically impossible to elect a superpower pontiff. Some would suspect Vatican policy was being crafted by the CIA. Third, the pope is supposed to be the patriarch of the West, and it would be theologically odd for that office to be held by someone from an Eastern rite.

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But, Allen argues, these objections could become positives. "The first two point to Husar as a bridge between East and West; the third suggests he could be a symbol of the full catholicity of the church, of its unity in diversity."

Finally, Allen says, "He is also one of the most genuinely Christian men I've ever met."

Dionigi Tettamanzi
Country: Italy
Age: 71
Assets: Italian.
Liabilities: Italian.

Only 5 percent of the world's Catholics live in Italy. So, why is an Italian even on the list? Because 35 percent of the voting cardinals either represent an Italian diocese or work for the Vatican administration. There may also be a sense that the church went through its wacky experimental phase by choosing a Polish pope and needs to get back to normal.

Tettamanzi is conservative and well-liked by the very conservative Opus Dei movement; most of the voting cardinals are conservative, too.

Most important, the leading Irish gambling Web site, Paddypower.com, rates him as the odds-on favorite.