White Smoke

The most astute Italian Vaticanista, Sandro Magister, has come out with a prediction and a favorite candidate for the next pope. Actually, Magister has two candidates, and the remarkable thing is both are Americans. Magister’s money is on Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, whom he calls “a larger-than-life man from the Midwest with a radiant smile and overflowing vigor.” His other choice is Sean Patrick O’Malley from Boston. Magister is good at giving a taste of the ruthless behind-the-scenes maneuvering among the cardinals. There are two factions: the old guard of the curia, who want an Italian pope, and one who will follow Ratzinger’s take-no-prisoners conservatism; the other faction includes, essentially, anyone who wants anything else. Dolan, Magister argues, could please both. He’s a conservative, but also as a non-European he would seem to represent change.