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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

Oddly Pontifical

It seems that Pope John Paul II's time is short here in this world, and I am truly saddened by his failing health. The Pope's remarkable presence and his unparalleled talents as both a spiritual and political leader have made a lasting impact on both the Catholic Church and the world as a whole.

And who will take his place as High Pontiff? No one knows for sure, but there appear to be at least three major forces at work. First, bear in mind that Pope John Paul II personally appointed 115 out of the 120 voting members of the College of Cardinals, ensuring that his successor will have a strong conservative bent. Second, there has been a definite shift in the Church's demographics: 65% of the world's Catholics live in Africa. How the Vatican chooses to interpret this fact could influence the vote. If they want to shore up their influence at home, they could favor a European Pope, whereas a Pope from somewhere in the third world might enhance their position among their new power base. A third factor is the talk of the need for a transitional Pope. That would mean electing an older cardinal to take over for some time before a younger and more permanent candidate can be installed.

With all of this in mind, here are the odds on some of the leading papabili:

CardinalAgeNationalityThe Odds
Dionigi Tettamanzi72Italian5/2
Francis Arinze72Nigerian11/4
Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga62Honduran4/1
Joseph Ratzinger78German7/1
Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino63Cuban15/2
Ennio Antonelli66Italian8/1
Claudio Hummes69Brazilian12/1
Christoph Schoenborn58Austrian12/1
Godfried Daneels70Belgian20/1
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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.