Sweet Sistine Softens Moods

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By Katie O’Donnell 3-4-2013

March madness is getting the Vatican treatment.

The Religion News Service has taken the popular sport bracket and created “Pope Madness.” It’s a way for the common folk to vote for their favorite Cardinals and see worldwide who is leading in popularity to become the new Pontiff. And Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston is on the list.

Cardinal O’Malley spoke with parishioners before he left for Rome. He tried to reassure them that the upcoming vote will be important, but not something they should worry about.

“In the coming days there will be speculation about candidates and outcomes,” the Cardinal said. “I assure you that no Cardinal goes into the Conclave with the ambition of being chosen for this overwhelming responsibility.”

Cardinal O’Malley joked that those that go into the Conclave with those kind of ideas usually end up going home to their Archdioceses still a Cardinal.

Over 25,000 have voted for their top choices. The bracket took the top four favorites from North America, Europe, South America and Africa and has narrowed it down to one from each continent.

Unfortunately for Americans, neither Cardinal O’Malley nor Cardinal Dolan from New York made the cut. Only Cardinal Marc Oullette from Canada is left to represent the North American team. Voters can still cast their ballots for the other three as well: Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz of Brazil, Cardinal Angelo Scola of Italy and Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Nigeria.

There is one person who isn’t surprised the two Americans didn’t make it. Father Jonathan DeFelice is President of Saint Anselm College and he believes the next Pope will come from a country that has a longer history with the church.

“I think it’s a possibility the Pope could be a non-European. I think it’s less of a possibility it could be an American. It could be someone from parts of the world where the church is really growing,” said Father DeFelice.

The Conclave of Cardinals had entered “a period of public silence,” according to Cardinal O’Malley’s blog. The voting started on Tuesday and ended with black smoke, the traditional signal that a decision was not made just yet.