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Electing the Next Pope

The race is close, and turnout promises to be high.

Mar 4, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 24 • By JOSEPH BOTTUM
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The 70-year-old Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi is president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and he has emerged in recent years in Europe as a rock-star intellectual, of the kind more common among the French than his fellow Italians. Widely learned, charismatic, and popular—a showman with a live-wire of a mind—he would be superb at many aspects of the job: a John Paul II-style figure. And yet, never having run any large-scale operation, Ravasi could prove a John Paul II figure in another, less happy, sense: ignoring the bureaucracy while he evangelizes around the world and thus further entrenching the deep problems of the Vatican’s day-to-day operations.

If one were to bet—but, then, Catholics are prohibited from betting on papal elections. Especially those Catholics who happen to be cardinals flying to Rome for the conclave to elect a successor to Benedict XVI in the middle of March. And their bets are the only ones that count.


Joseph Bottum is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and the author, most recently, of The Christmas Plains (Image/Random House) and the novella “Wise Guy” in Amazon’s Kindle Singles series.

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