When Pope Benedict XVI resigned earlier this week due to his advanced age, Catholics across the world seemed sure about one thing: The next guy has got to be younger. Along with that, he (or she?! no, no, definitely not she) should probably be able to confront the Church's history of child-molestation as well as appeal to growing Catholic demographics in poor countries. After the Pope steps down on February 28th, expect a quick deliberation between the cardinals, eager to have a new Pope by the Easter holiday. In that spirit, here's a quick rundown of the men-or-women-no-no-not-women-who-would-be-Pope:
The People's Choice
Luis Antonio Tagle, hailing from the Philippines, is among the youngest and newest Cardinals, having been made one just this past November. His quiet reserve and respectfulness is very Pope-like, and while it would be nice to see a Pope who wasn't an old white man, bookmakers have him at 16-1.
Please, God, No
The boisterous Timothy M. Dolan doesn't stand much of a chance of being Pope, with America being a superpower and all, but his handling of the sexual abuse allegations (paying off priests to leave the priesthood instead of reporting them to the police), should disqualify him enough. Bookies have him at 50-1.
The Relunctant Canuck
The Quebecois Marc Ouellet described the possibility of becoming Pope "a nightmare" in a 2011 interview, but he is a theological conservative who is about the right age for Pope (a spry 68). Sometimes self-effacing in a progressive country with a declining amount of Catholics, the Cardinal is running at 4-1.
Italy's Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi is giving what amounts to the keynote address of the weeklong papal Lenten retreat, but his low-profile is overshadowed by his fellow countryman, Angelo Scola. He's running at 16-1.
The Charismatic Favorite
Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, is very similar to the outgoing Pope, except younger (at an unripe 71) and a little more progressive. He has focused on immigrants rights and outreach to the Muslim world. He's running at 7-2, so get used to this guy — he might just be the next Pope!
The Black Pope
Peter Turkson, Ghana's first Cardinal, has promoted abstinence as a solution to stopping the spread of AIDS in Africa. He's not going to be Pope. Strangely enough, the bookmakers I'm using for odds have him at 5-2. I would love to see all the living room walls of Boston with a picture of a black Pope on it. Oh god, I would love that.