Readers' choice: Who did you pick to be the next pope?

By Scott Alessi| comments | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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With the actual conclave now underway, it is time for us to take a look at the final results of our ongoing polls to determine who you, the readers of U.S. Catholic, would like to see as the next pope.

We started with 18 contenders grouped into sets of six. The top two from each group then advanced to a final poll, which drew 444 responses over the past few days. And according to our readers, the winner is...Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, who received 36 percent of the vote (clearly not the two-thirds majority needed to be elected in the actual conclave, but good enough to win the fantasy vote). The voting was never really close, although Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley had a strong second place finish with 22 percent, while New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan finished third with 16 percent. Tagle is the most likely candidate of the three, but still a longshot to be chosen.

And what about actual papal contenders, like Cardinals Angelo Scola and Odilo Sherer? Neither survived the first round of our voting, with Scola coming in dead last in the first grouping with only six percent of the vote and Sherer getting a mere 10 percent in his bracket. Perhaps another example of the great divide between the thinking of the hierarchy and the people in the pews?

We also chose 18 "celebrity" candidates, a grouping of famous Catholics in the church as well as actors, politicians, and big name stars. Surprisingly, readers didn't want to think about a papacy of Stephen Colbert and instead went for the folks who have actual experience ministering in the church. Religious sisters did extremely well in the polls, and in the end 30 percent of you voted to elect Sister Joan Chittister as pope. Father Jim Martin, the well-known Jesuit author, came in a close second with 23 percent.

Now that the fun is over, we wait to find out who the Holy Spirit will choose to take the job for real. I'm done with all the speculation and odds making. I'm more interested in seeing what the newly chosen leader of our church will do once he takes the job.