Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
1 Timothy 6:17
The Bible contains no specific command to avoid gambling, and if you interpret the opening passage with the batshit-nutty-of-the-highest-order-reading of scripture (primarily Leviticus) adopted by the Westboro Baptists1, than it could perhaps decree that betting on the next pope2 is a good thing.
That aside, I’ve seen more than one parish priest3 at a country race meeting to feel comfortable enough to take Cardinal Luis Tagle at $51 (now into $26) and Cardinal Christoph Schonborn ($29)4 to be the next person to fill the Chair of Peter.
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
First up, holy power saw of Jesus, who saw this coming – the first pope to resign since Pope Gregory XII in 1415. At least Gregory had the whole Avignon/Western Schism thing to lean on.
What makes this worth celebrating, outside the obvious schadenfraude for every smug atheist with a Facebook account (and that Benedict more or less spent the past few years shitting the bed on the church’s sexual abuse scandal) is that the papacy, for the next few weeks at least, becomes a ‘sport’.
There is a lot of early buzz in today’s papers about the possibility that the next pope may come from Africa. Today’s Herald Sun nominated Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana as ‘the favourite’ ($3.50). One thing the media will lose their collective shit over where he to be elected is the erroneous claim ‘First Black Pope’5. That aside, the Vatican would clearly hope that the event of a black pope will distract the world’s attention from his stance on condoms in AIDS-stricken Africa and the fact that he may be anti-Muslim (Google “Turkson + anti-muslim”).
Next in the line of betting is Cardinal Marc Oulett from Canada ($4.50). He doesn’t want it6. That said he is from Canada and Canadians are predisposed to apologise. Given the number of apologies that need to be made on behalf of the Catholic Church, he may just be the right man for the job.
Cardinal Francis Arinze from Nigeria is at $5, but the man is 80-years old, and given Bendict XVI’s reasons for stepping down, the papal conclave really should be looking to go sub-65.
This should also rule out Cardinal Angelo Scola (71) – that and the fact that the church needs a ‘game changer’ – the Archbishop of Milan is not a game changer.
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodrigues Maradiaga from Honduras is not without a chance ($10). He’s the leading candidate from Latin America which has the greatest share of the world’s Roman Catholics (41 per cent), although the area is no longer a growth market for the church, with this share having shrunk since 1970. If he doesn’t get the gig than Cardinal Claudio Hummes from Brazil ($26) certainly wont.
Next in the line of betting are my men – Tagle (pictured above) and Sconborn.
Cardinal Luis Tagle, the archbishop of Manilla is one of the youngest members of the College of Cardinals (55) and represents a growing market in Asia. He is also widely known as a charismatic cardinal and is on brief with his work with the needy and the poor. He ticks a lot of boxes.
Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn is the archbishop of Vienna and our best chance of Vatican 3. In 2012, he overruled one of his priests and allowed a gay Catholic to serve on a parish council. He is also in the minutes as saying the church should carry out an “unflinching examination” of the causes of the abuse of the scandal.
Two other outsiders who may be recognisable to readers are:
1. Cardinal Timothy Dolan from the US ($34): In 2012, TIME magazine named Dolan one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.” While he is the Archbishop of New York, he is largely seen as representative of the US. So there is one word as to why he won’t get it. Boston.
2. Our own Cardinal George Pell ($41), who might want to get his own house in order before taking on the entire Catholic ministry. Besides, he doesn’t even appear on the line of betting in international markets.
Who to back?
My favourite current day theologian7 Hans Kung, is a long-time critic of Benedict and says that:
“During his time in office he has ordained so many conservative cardinals, that amongst them is hardly a single person to be found who could lead the church out of its multifaceted crisis.”
The horses I’ve backed are probably the only two who have the capacity and the will to do so.
While they represent value, the smart money would be on the Catholic church to continue to wield its 100-pound bullshit sledge to shape the narrative of the next pope’s reign in such a fashion that its fanatical devotion to barefaced contradictions of the teaching of Jesus (refer footnotes) will become the status quo – so I’d be predisposed to ignore everything you’ve just read.
Craig Little was an altar boy at St Joseph’s Warrnambool, achieving a triple double in 1984 (10 regular masses, 10 weddings and 10 funerals)
1. Leviticus 25.44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Indonesians but not New Zealanders. Is someone able to clarify this? Why can’t I own New Zealanders?
2. At this point I should say that the office of pope long ago returned to the religion that Jesus renounced. Can you imagine Jesus’ reaction if he walked into Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome? He did after all say that his followers should not “lord it over others” like the pagan kings (Lk 22.25). They should not be like rabbis who “affect the first seat in the synagogue” (Lk 11.43). In short, Jesus opposed the conceited Pharisee and any religion that was proud of its virtue, ready to impose burdens rather to lift or share them. Besides which, Jesus said “Where two or three are met together in my name, there I am in their midst” (Mt 18.20). Why do you need a Bishop from Rome if you have the number one guy in your midst?
3. As a continuation of the previous footnote, my experience with parish priests in Victoria’s western district was that most of them neglected the poor to cultivate the rich.
4. These bets are placed in a somewhat forlorn hope that the resignation of Benedict XVI is another chance to act with justice toward the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of the institutional Church. That and service toward the needy and poor in rest of the world, which is pretty much the way it should have been acting for the past 20 years. The odds of this happening, regrettably, are probably longer than what’s betting markets are quoting.
5. According to The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis) there have been three popes from Africa – Victor I (186-197 A.D.); Pope St. Militiades (311-314 A.D.) and Pope St. Gelasius (492-496 A.D.)
6. He said becoming pope “would be a nightmare”
7. Yes, I understand it is odd to have a favourite current day theologian.