Pope Benedict XVI officially left his seat as the head of the Catholic church on Thursday afternoon, and 117 cardinals from across the world are now tasked with choosing the next pope from amongst their peers at the upcoming papal conclave. While the conclave is entirely secretive, Religion News Service came up with a way that we can all participate in the fun that goes into choosing the next pope — the Sweet Sistine.
The Sweet Sistine is a March Madness-style bracket tournament in which eligible cardinals from similar regions of the world are pitted against one another for the papacy. Religion News Service encouraged people to make their first round picks, and the results have been tallied as of Friday morning. You can check them out here. Spoiler alert — Boston’s own Cardinal Sean O’Malley was edged out of the race by Cardinal Timothy Dolan by just 2,000 votes.
Unlike March Madness brackets, the Sweet Sistine has nothing to do with the actual conclave, so Cardinal O’Malley is indeed still in the actual race.
Religion News Service reminds us to stay tuned for an updated bracket coming next week.
Until then, scope out USA Today’s great analysis of how to choose your papal picks based on stats from the actual NCAA basketball tournament. Amongst their tips: the favorites never win, long names never win and older teams (read: cardinals) never win.
While it would be entertaining if the pope was chosen via a bracket, the actual conclave is much more intricate. Here are more details on the conclave process, courtesy of CBS:
This process usually begins 15 to 20 days after the death of a pope. But, since Benedict XVI resigned and there is no 9-day mourning period, the conclave could start as early as March 6 (six days after the resignation) or no later than March 18.
According to NBC, the cardinals will formally meet on Monday, March 4th to discuss the start of the conclave.