NPR : News

Filed Under:

Doing The Cardinal Math: Numbers Point To Another European Pope

Play associated audio

On this morning after the surprise announcement that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning at the end of the month, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli looks at the numbers and concludes it's more than likely the next pope will be a European, just like nearly all the others.


As Sylvia told Morning Edition guest host Linda Wertheimer:

-- 117 cardinals are eligible to vote at the upcoming conclave (only those under the age of 80 can take part).

-- 61 are from Europe. That's 52 percent of the votes.

-- Of the 56 others: 19 are from Latin America, 14 are from North America, 11 are from Africa, 11 are from Asia and 1 is from Oceania.

What's more, the cardinals who will choose the next pope are all in their positions thanks to the German-born Benedict and his predecessor, Polish-born Pope John Paul II. It's hard to imagine those cardinals choosing "someone who would really veer" from those popes' views of the world and the church, Sylvia said.

Put the numbers and the cardinals' makeup together and, Sylvia concludes, "it will probably be a European." Italian Cardinal Angelo Scola, 71, is a leading contender.

Of course, as Benedict's resignation proves, the unexpected can happen. There are at least a couple candidates from outside Europe the cardinals might turn to, Sylvia says: Cardinal Marc Ouellet, 68, of Canada and Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, 63, of Brazil.

European oddsmakers, by the way, aren't quite in sync with Sylvia on the likelihood of a European. They've got Ouellet as the 3-1 favorite, with Cardinal Peter Turkson, 64, of Ghana close behind at 7-2.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit

WAMU 88.5

Kate Mulgrew: "Born With Teeth" (Rebroadcast)

Kate Mulgrew, who stars as "Red" in the Netflix TV series "Orange Is The New Black", opens up in a new memoir about her complicated family and the baby she gave away for adoption as a young woman.


Swapping The Street For The Orchard, City Dwellers Take Their Pick Of Fruit

Urban foragers don't just pick their meals from the trash; many eat only the finest, freshest produce — picked from city trees. The League of Urban Canners harvests fruit from trees to make jam.

Reconsidering The Pilgrims, Piety And America's Founding Principles

Conservatives who want to emphasize America's Christian roots embrace the story of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower Compact. But some historians say their role in the country's founding is overstated.

From Takeout To Breakups: Apps Can Deliver Anything, For A Price

Convenience is at an all-time premium — and a lot of smartphone apps promise to make many of the things we do every day easier. In a time-crunch or sheer laziness, how far will the apps take us?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.