Who Will Be the Next Pope: The “Safe Bet”

Sophia Institute Press aired a June 24 live discussion to advertise Edward Pentin’s book “The Next Pope.” Pentin, the historian Roberto de Mattei, John Allen ( and Ross Douthat (New York Times) participated. The discussion was moderated by Diane Montagna.

The book presents 19 cardinals who Pentin considers possible future popes. They are: Bagnasco, Burke, Duka, Eijk, Erdö, Müller, Napier, O’Malley, Ouellet, Parolin, Piacenza, Ranjith, Ravasi, Sarah, Schönborn, Scola, Tagle, Turkson, Zuppi.

Allen pointed out that he is ruining his “reputation” [with the Church's enemies] by participating in the panel, observing that he was the most liberal in the round. He justified his presence by explaining that he is “actually a friend of Edward Pentin.”

Conservatives Do Not Even Have A Plausible Candidate Anymore

Allen observed that Francis has already appointed over 60% of the voting cardinals, a number that will be well over 2/3 in few years, “It would be unreasonable to expect that a College of Cardinals largely appointed by Francis will elect anyone who would be clearly seen as a repudiation of the Francis’ legacy.”

This is why Allen thinks that a couple of Pentin’s picks have no chance to become pope, “The more conservative block will not gonna get a Burke or a Sarah, not even an Angelo Scola.”

Allen presented Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schönborn as the only plausible compromise candidate for the "conservative" block, since Schönborn would at least understand their language and [like Bergoglio] has cultivated during most of his career a "conservative" reputation. In reality, Schönborn is a hard-liner Francis cardinal who went openly pro-gay after broke some major homosex-related scandals he was involved in.

If Allen would have to put his life savings on a candidate he would consider the Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin as “the safe bet”. Further, he considers Cardinal Tagle as a plausible candidate.

The “Institutional Candidate”

Douthat agrees with Allen that Sarah and Burke have no realistic chance to be elected popes.

He calls Cardinal Parolin in a conventional view as the “institutional candidate” who is in continuity with Francis.

For Douthat, Cardinal Tagle represents Francis’ "pastoral revolution" which is "testing the boundaries of orthodoxy.”

Francis Obscures the Papacy

For De Mattei none of the 19 candidates - including Sarah, Burke and Müller - have the qualities to be a good pope, while Francis has obscured the institution he represents.

De Mattei also points out that previously there was a debate of ideas between conservatives and progressives, while today the debate is reduced to a discussion between friends and enemies of Francis. In this discussion, the Francis friends see him not as successor of Peter but as a successor of Jesus, while his critics consider him the Anti-Christ.

For De Mattei, the key point of the next pontificate will be the pope's relation with Vatican II. All post Vatican II popes have referred positively to this council. Now, De Mattei believes that a historical review is underway which he localizes in two recent articles published by - the isolated outsiders - Archbishop Viganò and Bishop Schneider.
Diane Montagna is gorgeous.
Liam Ronan
Perhaps come the next conclave there will be many less cardinals than at present. Nothing is impossible for God.