U.S. Catholic conclave round 2: Readers really love Cardinal Tagle
We've now completed the second round of our reader polls on the next pope, and with more than 400 responses, the results weren't even close.
As the graph on the left shows, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila (a favorite of  our own U.S. Catholic blogger Bryan Cones, even before Pope Benedict stepped down ) ran away with the vote. A full 54 percent of readers chose Tagle as the man who should succeed Benedict, making him a clear winner despite the fact that his age--at 55 he is one of the youngest cardinals in the church--makes him an unlikely choice in the actual conclave.
The vote was split pretty evenly among the other candidates, with Archbishop Jose Gomez (who will likely be named a cardinal by the next pope once Gomez's predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, reaches the age of 80) coming in second. He obviously won't be chosen this time around, but he might make a good candidate in the next conclave.
We threw in one more unlikely American candidate, Washington archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who received 11 percent of the vote. And the one real Vatican insider of the group, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, finished dead last, showing that readers are surely ready for a change in the business-as-usual approach at the Vatican.
Tagle and Gomez will now move on to the finals to compete with Cardinals Dolan and O'Malley, along with the winners of our next poll (votes are being taken right now! Just check the right-hand column of this page to view the latest poll).
Now, on to the fun version--the famous candidates who could never actually be pope. Here it was two candidates who were clearly favored above all others: Sister Joan Chittister (with 37 percent) and actor Martin Sheen (with 25 percent). Chittister's win, combined with the surprise performance of Sister Helen Prejean in round one, shows that our readers would truly love to see a woman religious in the chair of Peter. So we've given you two more notable sisters to choose from in the third round: theologian Elizabeth Johnson and social justice advocate Simone Campbell (who has surely gained some street cred from her appearances on The Daily Show  and The Colbert Report ).
It was interesting to see that the two famous Catholic politicians who battled it out in last year's presidential election--Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, who ran for VP alongside Republican hopeful Mitt Romney--didn't have nearly as much support. Of all the candidates, though, I'd say Biden most looks the part of a pope, even if he wouldn't quite be the right guy for the job.
Chittister and Sheen join Prejean and Father Jim Martin in the finals, along with the two top candidates in the current poll. In addition to the two sisters, we've given you more fantasy pope options ranging from another popular priest (Father Robert Barron) to another Catholic politician (Marco Rubio) to another big name Catholic in Hollywood (Sean Connery, who as one of our editors pointed out, would clearly have the best pope voice of them all).
Be sure to cast your vote, and check back soon for more results (as well as ongoing coverage of news surrounding the actual conclave, too).