Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna
Cardinal Péter Erdõ of Budapest
Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer of São Paulo
Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri
Cardinal Marc Ouellet
Cardinal Peter Turkson
Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan
John Allen's been doing a daily review of random papabile. You can click on the links above for each review.
It's rather depressing, partly because of the format I fear. He does a general introduction of the cardinal, then presents the pros. Unfortunately he then follows with the cons, and there always seem to be significant cons.
I suspect these articles could be very influential. Remember, many cardinals barely know each other, and what they know is often vague, hunch-like, based on crossing paths at a few Vatican meetings. If you work in a large organisation, say a university, a Government department, you have about 120 colleagues at the same level as you. Imagine if you have to pick one to become head of the organisation. You have to do this with no applications to read, no CVs, no nominations, no long lists, no short lists, no competitions, no interviews. Now imagine that your organisation, instead of being based in one institution, one city, is spread all over the world and that in practice you know and work with between zero and 15 other colleagues. So you do what everyone else does, you start to google, you phone your mates. If you're lucky some of the colleagues may have written books which you can read. But really this is only useful if you've already read them as you won't have time now to do it.
So I suspect John Allen's articles will be read voraciously by many cardinal electors. When Charlie McCreevey became Minister for Finance he was handed a sealed, secret file of briefing. When he read it he was shocked to discover it was essentially plagiarised from The Economist.
Of the 8 he's reviewed so far, my preferences are Tagle of Manila, Scola of Milan, and Erdõ of Budapest. I have a little soft spot for Sandri as he wrote me a lovely letter after Pope Benedict was elected and I feel we have a connection. ("Dear Pope X, you will recall writing to me some time ago...").
Tagle seems like a good guy, the main thing against him being his being too young; Scola is close to Ratzinger but perhaps too Italian. Schönborn too German, hated by Sodano and a little lacking in judgement perhaps. Scherer, Brazilian but without the trimmings. Ouellet, dull - an Irish bishop - and he seems to have stymied the recommendations of the Apostolic Visitation. Turkson, African but little else. Needs to stop talking.
So back to Erdõ of Budapest. If I were a betting man I might risk a tenner on him. Paddy Power has shortened his odds to 16-1. There's quite a few things in his favour according to Allen - but I'm going for the Twilight Zone angle. You'll recall the prophecy of St Malarkey? Well Erdõ's first name is Peter. Then he's from Budapest, an imperial seat of the Holy Roman Empire. And in Budapest we find, the Fisherman's Bastion, complete with seven towers, reminiscent of Rome's seven hills. And of course Budapest itself it built on seven hills.
Along with Armagh, Edinburgh and Los Angeles - according to this list anyway.
I can hear Rod Sterling's voice in the background.