The next pope? He may currently be working south of the equator

Posted at 9:17 PM, Feb 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-11 23:22:48-05

Even though the majority of cardinals, the senior Catholic clergy who vote on the next pope, are from Europe and North America, the next pope may very well not come from those parts of the globe, if comments from cardinals and odds from betting websites are to be believed.

On those websites are New York’s own cardinal, but even he admits that the probability that he will end up leading the church is low.

Two things, though, can be relied on in the wake of Pope Benedict XVI announcing his resignation.  One, speculation as to who will be his  replacement reached a fever pitch as soon as the announcement was made.  Two, the following question is being asked in detail.

Pope Benedict

The spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI, surprised the world Monday by saying he will resign at the end of the month “because of advanced age.”

“What do you do with an ex-pope?” Fordham University theology professor Maureen Tilley said in an interview with PIX11 News.  “What kind of power does he have, especially as we go into the next conclave?”

A conclave is the gathering of cardinals who choose the next pope.  The Vatican has already said that Benedict XVI will play no role in the selection, at least not directly.  But Tilley, an historian of the Roman Catholic Church through the Reformation, said that based on the unprecedented nature of Benedict’s announcement, he can’t help but be a presence.

“We don’t have a way that people won’t seek his advice,” Tilley said.  “I’m sure the next pope will seek his advice.”

As for who that next pope could be, consider that the minority of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics live in North America and Europe, The majority are people with ties to the Southern Hemisphere — Africa and Latin America, especially.

Next Pope?

Where the next pope come from? With the majority of Catholics living below the equator, these are some of the names already thrown into the running.

Nonetheless, Cardinal Ouellet, 68,  of Canada is being talked about strongly as a candidate because he has extensive missionary experience in Latin America.

Other top names include Peter Turkson, 64, from Ghana and Francis Arinze of Nigeria. He’s 80, however, which may take him out of the running.

Well in the running is Argentine cardinal Leonardo Sandri, 69.

Closer to home is New York City cardinal Timothy Dolan.  However, the one-year veteran cardinal said on Monday that he wants to be realistic about his being selected.

“I don’t think there are many cardinals would take that chance,” Dolan said.  “It’s way too out of the realm of probability.”