According to bookies, the front runner for the job of absolute ruler of the world's smallest country, and as Vicar of Christ and leader of the world's one billion plus Roman Catholics is the Italian Cardinal, Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan who is 71. Apparently (although I don't know how anyone would know) he received 50 votes of the 77 which are needed to clinch the job in the first round of voting.
Other contenders are supposedly Brazilian Odillo Sherer, Archbishop of São Paulo , who is 63; Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, also 63, and Marc Ouellet, from Québec, who is 69. They are rumoured to have received between 10 and 15 votes each.
One cardinal who isn't counting on getting the top job and moving to the Vatican any time soon is Roger Mahoney, whose ex-diocese of Los Angeles has just paid out $10 million in compensation for child abuse, all carried out by a priest whom Mahoney allowed to continue working with children, despite his knowing about the man's predilection for children.
I reckon that had I been Mahoney, as well as retiring from overseeing my See, I would have declined to take part in the Conclave, [from which in any case, I would have thought him barred, due to his age (77)!]
Given the size of the Catholic population across the world, the influence that the Pope has in so many countries and the horrific recent history of child abuse and corruption, in particular in the Curia, the administrative heart of the Vatican City and the Church, (the reason many say that Pope (Emeritus) Benedictus XVI stood down) the choice of Pope is important to everyone, not just to Roman Catholics.
There are those who favour a return to an Italian Pope for the first time since 1978; but there are those who say that it would be more sensible to have a Pope from part of the world where the Church is growing, rather than one where it is in decline. Thus African and South American candidates have been mentioned as possibilities for the first time. Some say the new Pope should be a preacher, some say an academic, some an administrator and tough manager.
There will of course be many who remember that in 1978 there was a Pope who, it was rumoured, was shocked with the unholy doings of the Vatican Bank and allegedly had plans to investigate it. He died after 33 days in the papacy.
I wondered if any of you have any ideas about who the next Pope should be and why.