By Misty Poe
Times West Virginian
Before Easter, the Catholic church should have a new pope.
It’s a rather quick turnaround, as the cardinals have all come to the Vatican and settled to start the papal election in the midst of the church’s holy Easter season. But typically, the church takes time to mourn the pope and prepare for his funeral, as it’s been more than 600 years since one has stepped down. Prior to his effective resignation date on Feb. 27, Pope Benedict XVI amended the rules to allow for an earlier start date for the conclave.
So on Tuesday, the heads of the church will begin the secret balloting to select a new pope. Cardinals have already gathered there for daily meetings and almost all have given brief speeches about the future of the church and who should be selected to lead it. It’s also the last chance for cardinals over the age of 80 to make their voice heard on the direction they church should take — those cardinals are not allowed to cast a vote during the election.
Credible news organizations covering the events at the Vatican say there is no clear front runner. However, within two hours of Benedict’s resignation announcement, the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power started accepting bets from hundreds of thousands worldwide — it’s illegal to do so in the United States since the papal election is just that, an election.
Here are the most recent odds, according to Paddy Power.
Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana: 11-4.
Cardinal Angelo Scola from Italy: 3-1
Cardinal Marc Ouellet from Canada: 6-1
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone from Italy: 6-1
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco from Italy: 8-1
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri from Argentina: 12-1
Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Brazil: 50-1
It’s strange that people will bet on such a reverent process, but it is interesting to see what the public thinks about the rising pope. Perhaps it speaks to what qualities they believe he should posess.
We were interested ourselves in what our readers believed should define the next pope. We put the question out on our online poll question, which can be found each week at www.timeswv.com. Last week we asked “What do you think is the most important quality to consider as a new pope is selected?”
And here’s what you had to say:
• Geography — Someone who will represent the growing Catholic populations worldwide — 2.27 percent.
• Experience — Many of the cardinals in the Vatican have proven their faith and loyalty — 2.27 percent.
• Age — Someone who can connect with youth and not face health issues — 22.73 percent.
• Strong leadership — The church has many obstacles to overcome — 72.73 percent.
May God be with them as they make this very important and lasting decision.
This week, let’s talk about childhood obesity and where the biggest changes can be made to win the battle of the bulge.
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