Disclaimer: If you’re looking for serious analysis on the upcoming/ongoing conclave and who could be elected Pope, this is not the place. Try BBC or CNN. They’ll have some stuff. We promise. But you might enjoy this anyway. It has something for everybody.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF POPE BRACKETING
Few know that the Papacy has rich history of making brackets involving the Cardinals considered Papal Candidates. Even the white smoke is actually various Cardinals their burning busted brackets as results of matches going final. As the College of Cardinals is set to convene Conclave tomorrow, OMR kicks off Bracket Week with trying to project who the next pope will be. Should be simple enough, right?
To simplify seeding for this bracket, we turned to odds makers (Because you can bet on anything these days) and good ol’ Nate Silver (of presidential election prediction fame) and selected the top 16 candidates based on compiled and averaged odds, which for the sake analogy, we’re going to call Papal RPI. We valued Papal RPI very highly and “seeded” accordingly.
Here’s a break down of Conference Qualifiers. There’s no surprise that the Italian Conference got 4 candidates into the tourney since they make up almost a quarter of the selection committee (they don’t leave the room when their candidates come up). The Italians have dominated the Papacy, winning 217 of 273 Papacy Championships, effectively making them the SEC West of the Catholic Leadership.
South American: 4
North American: 2
*Canada joined the European Conference as part of conference realignment in 2010, citing stability and feeling more culturally aligned.
Each regional is played at a neutral site pre-determined by the
College of Cardinals Selection Committee. Here’s this Conclave’s.
Notre Dame de Paris, Paris, France
Completed in 1345
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, District of Columbia, United States
Our Lady of Africa, Algiers, Algeria
Basilica of Our Lady Help of Christians, Shanghai, China
Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City, Vatican
FIRST ROUND MATCH UPS
European Regional Semifinal (Played at Notre Dame de Paris, Paris France):
1. Angelo Scola (Italian Conference) vs 16. Timothy Dolan (North American Conference): Dolan limped into this Papal postseason as an At-Large and really had no chance against Scola, who is hip with the youth. Think of Scola of as the 2012 Kentucky of the Papal Bracket.
8. Peter Erdo (European Conference) vs 9. Odilo Scherer (South American Conference): Scherer was definitely underseeded, as Brazil commands quite the following in South America, though it’s fans can be fickle as UCLA fans. Erdo, on the other hand, is the youngest Cardinal and just doesn’t have the chops to take down Scherer. Maybe next Conclave, Peter.
Americas Regional Semifinal (Played at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, District of Columbia, United States):
4. Marc Ouellet (European Conference) vs 13. Sean O’Malley (North American Conference): An unexpected challenger out of Canada, Ouellet has a former conference opponent in Sean O’Malley. It’s probably as close to the former Kansas/Missouri Rivalry as this bracket gets.
5. Angelo Bagnasco (Italian Conference) vs 12. Francis Arinze (African Conference): This tourney has pretty much advanced chalk so far. Things are quiet. Too quiet. You know what they say about 5/12 match ups in tournaments: they always happen.
African Regional Semifinal (Played at Our Lady of Africa, Algiers, Algeria):
2. Peter Turkson (African Conference) vs 15. Jorge Bergoglio (South American Conference): Turkson is one of the favorites to win the whole thing. Africa is one of the rising areas of Catholicism, but don’t count out Bergoglio from South America. Even though this match up is close, Turkson still survives and advances.
7. Leonardo Sandri (South American Conference) vs 10. Christoph von Schonborn (European Conference): Surprisingly, the dude named Leonardo isn’t from Italy. That itself would be an upset, but not enough of one to advance past his opponent, who’s name just screams Austria. Think of this as a game that came down to a foul at the buzzer… And missed the free throws.
Winner: von Schonborn
Asia/Oceania Regional Semifinal (Played at Basilica of Our Lady Help of Christians, Shanghai, China):
3. Tarcisio Bertone (Italian Conference) vs 14. Luis A. Tagle (Asian Conference): Poor Bertone. Despite finishing 2nd in the strongest conference, he got lucky and got shipped out to the Asia/Oceania Regional. Italians still have the strongest conference of Cardinals (and prospective popes) by far. They should just let them go straight to being a Cardinal from being a Priest. But noooo… They have to spend years as Bishop and risk injury. I digress.
6. Gianfranco Ravasi (Italian Conference) vs 11. Oscar Maradiaga (South American Conference): The final match up of the day looks to be a good one, pitting another Italian against South America, which is number 2 in Papal RPI. But no one beats Italians. Besides the Allies, I guess.
SECOND ROUND MATCH UPS
European Regional Final:
1. Angelo Scola (Italian Conference) vs 9. Odilo Scherer (South American Conference): A terrible match up for the top Italian. A Brazilian in the Regional Semis?? The selection committee did this on purpose for ratings. Poor Scola. He gets knocked out after a great regular season by an upstart.
North American Regional Final:
4. Marc Ouellet (European Conference) vs 12. Francis Arinze (African Conference): Arinze is just happy to be here and Ouellet is feeling at home back with all the Canadians filling the National Cathedral.
African Regional Final:
2. Peter Turkson (African Conference) vs 10. Christoph von Schonborn (European Conference): von Schonborn has had a nice run, but Turkson is just something else. People start calling him a gamechanger.
Asia/Oceania Regional Final:
3. Tarcisio Bertone (Italian Conference) vs 6. Gianfranco Ravasi (Italian Conference): Some Italian on Italian Conference action. Bertone overpowers Ravasi just like in the regular season.
FINAL FOUR MATCH UPS
Played at Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City, Vatican
9. Odilo Scherer (South American Conference) vs 4. Marc Ouellet (European Conference): The dream ends in the Final Four for Scherer. The Canadians that made the trip to Vatican City start a “Ouellet all the way!” chant in St. Peter’s Square.
2. Peter Turkson (African Conference) vs 3. Tarcisio Bertone (Italian Conference): Surprisingly Bertone makes the Final Four and not Scola who was a favorite to start the Tourney. That Turkson though… he just does it again. All he does is win.
FINALS MATCH UP
Played at Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City, Vatican
4. Marc Ouellet (European Conference) vs 2. Peter Turkson (African Conference): Turkson versus Ouellet is the match up many pundits predicted starting the tournament. The right breaks happened and now they’ll settle this in a match up for the ages. Too bad these two can’t go best-of-seven.
CONGRATULATIONS TO PETER TURKSON ON WINNING THE POPE BRACKET!!!
And as all tourneys should end, ladies and gentlemen: one shining moment.