John Paul II vs. Paddy Power

Did Pope John Paul II have a preference, or a premonition, about who might succeed him? This is not an angle appearing in many stories about the coming papal election, but two mainstream media outlets reported it in 2003.

Here is how Uwe Siemon-Netto of United Press International covered it:

Several months ago, the pope was reported to have said, "My successor is not even a cardinal yet." Presumably, his preferred candidate is among the 30 prelates about to be raised to that rank.

And this is Desmond O'Grady's report for The Age:

This year a visiting churchman, conversing with John Paul II, is reported to have mentioned a certain cardinal, adding "he's widely tipped as your successor". John Paul's reply was said to be "my successor hasn't yet been made a cardinal".

The pope convened his ninth and final consistory in 2003 and appointed 30 more cardinals. (This comprehensive website, flagged by GR friend Rod Dreher, provides background on all of John Paul's consistories.)

Only nine of those 30 cardinals appear on the three websites (Betfair, Paddy Power, Pinnacle Sports) mentioned in a Washington Post story about gambling on the papal election:

Cardinal Title Betting site citations
Ennio Antonelli Archbishop of Florence, Italy Three
Philippe Christian Ignace Marie Barbarin Archbishop of Lyon, France One
Tarcisio Bertone Archbishop of Genoa, Italy Three
Josip Bozanic Archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia One
Julian Herranz Casado President of the Disciplinary Commission of the Roman Curia, member of Opus Dei One
Keith Michael Patrick O'Brien Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edingburgh, Scotland Two
Marc Ouellet Archbishop of Quebec, Canada One
George Pell Archbishop of Sydney, Australia Two
Angelo Scola Patriarch of Venice Three

These cardinals are not without controversy. Opus Dei makes lots of people nervous, and George Pell has faced allegations of sexual abuse (an inquiry panel found him innocent). Of the 30 cardinals, even the Italians are longshots -- if the bookies are any reliable guide.

Depending on how the Holy Spirit guides the cardinals when they meet in conclave, Pope John Paul II may prove prophetic in a way few people could have anticipated.

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