Next Pope to be Catholic, at Least

Friday, Aug. 19, 1978

Papal History Says the Pope Should be Italian (AP)

Statistically, the chances of a non-Italian Roman Catholic being elected pope are better than they’ve ever been in modern times. Yet, it’s still not expected. The pattern of 455 years is against it. Church experts say the choice remains wide open at this point, however, with no clear-cut favorites.

“The chances for a non-Italian pope seem pretty good this time,” says the Rev. Andrew Greeley of Chicago, a noted researcher… “But it’s still a wide open contest,” he adds, “and no one has anywhere near the two-thirds-plus-one needed for election in the opening rounds.”

Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter, by Pietro Perugino, 1481.
Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter, by Pietro Perugino (1481)

Devotion Dwindles Beyond Papal Wall
(Sylvana Foa)

Deeply discouraging reports like this cause one to wonder with Jesus, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8) The Church finds hope in Christ’s assurance that “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against” her. (Matthew 16:18) Yet not everyone who says “I’m Catholic” will enter the kingdom of heaven,but only the one who does the will of [the] Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

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