Papabili(ty): The Cardinals Who Have Seen Their Prospects in the Next Conclave Harmed and Improved by Recent Events

Stock markets are notoriously fickle, forever expanding or contracting on the basis of whatever new wind happens to blow. Let a coup occur in Bahrain, and the Dow may drop 100 points over fears about oil production; should the US land a new rover on Mars, the NASDAQ may soar amid rising confidence in American technological prowess.

Perceived fortunes of papal candidates are a bit like the markets, actually, in that they also often wax and wane on the basis of whatever’s happening right now. Should a particular cardinal turn in a bravura performance navigating a controversy, his odds will be seen to rise; if another cardinal is associated with a gaffe or scandal, his chances will be regarded as having dimmed.

Of course, there’s one towering difference: variations in stock prices have cash value in the here and now, while the ups and downs of papabili, contenders for the Throne of Peter, really matter only once, which is whenever the time finally comes for a conclave.

That aside, it’s still an interesting thought exercise to ponder how three recent news events may have affected the standing of perceived candidates. Those headlines include controversies over Fiducia Supplicans, the Vatican document approving blessings of people in same-sex relationships; Pope Francis’s comments regarding Ukraine waving a white flag in its conflict with Russia; and the Pope’s new autobiography Life: My Story Through History, in which he once again rejects suggestions that he might be on the verge of resignation.

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