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Panel pontificates about prospective popes detailed in 'The Next Pope: The Leading Cardinal Candidat

Thursday, June 25, 2020  
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Panel pontificates about prospective popes detailed in 'The Next Pope: The Leading Cardinal Candidates'


Featuring New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, Crux editor John L. Allen, and Church historian Roberto De Mattei

BOSTON — In yesterday’s livestream from Rome, noted Catholic experts discussed what qualities a successful pope must possess and why 19 particular candidates were chosen to be included in the book, “The Next Pope: The Leading Cardinal Candidates,” ( by National Catholic Register’s Rome correspondent Edward Pentin.

Publisher Sophia Institute Press hosted the open conversation between New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, Crux editor John L. Allen and Italian Roman Catholic historian and author Roberto de Mattei. Journalist Diane Montagna moderated the panel. The recording of the spirited discussion from EWTN’s rooftop studio in Rome against the backdrop of St. Peter’s Basilica can be viewed on YouTube and Facebook. The full transcript can be viewed at ( Some of the panelist quotes are below:

John Allen: “I have never read Edward Pentin without learning something I didn't already know ... The last thing you want the cardinals to be is uninformed when they have to make that monumental choice ... I can declare dogmatically that this [book] is a service to the Church.”

Roberto de Mattei: “The real problem today does not seem to be the relationship between one pontificate and another, but the relationship of the next pope with Vatican II, because all the popes since 1965 have referred to Vatican II positively, albeit of course with some differences. But it seems to me that a strong historical revision of Vatican II is underway, as is evident for example from the recent interventions of Archbishop Viganò and Bishop Schneider, who don’t come from traditionalism, but who have honestly faced a theological and cultural debate that seems necessary to me. And, so, the relationship with Vatican II will be a key point in the next pontificate.”


Ross Douthat: “The conventional view would be that there’s an institutional candidate that would be someone like [Pietro] Cardinal Parolin, who would represent continuity with Francis but perhaps a more institutionalist bent. There’s a vision that would favor someone like [Luis Antonio] Cardinal Tagle of the Philippines, who would represent the furthering of the Francis “Pastoral Revolution” that tests the boundaries of orthodoxy, you might say, in pursuit of pastoral goals. And then in theory there should also be a ‘conservative candidate’.”

Edward Pentin: “Conclaves are announced and there’s very short notice between when they’re announced and when the actual conclave happens ... So this [book] is really so we can be prepared and know exactly who they are. It doesn’t have any bearing on this present pontificate or the past pontificate.”

During his 17 years covering the Vatican, Pentin noted that many aspects of the essential beliefs of prospective candidates for the papacy have been entirely unknown not only by those outside the Vatican walls, but also inside. In the “The Next Pope: The Leading Cardinal Candidates,” Pentin details the backgrounds of 19 leading candidates for the papacy, including Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (see preview chapters on these two cardinals here).

Whether Pope Francis’ reign as supreme pontiff lasts for several more years or only a few, the most influential and widely recognized moral and religious office in the world will eventually have a new occupant, and the controversial book is fueling speculation as to who that might be.

Pentin collaborated with an international team of respected scholars to bring critical elements of each candidate’s biographical and ecclesiastical backgrounds to light. Moreover, he assesses how each man has fulfilled his three fundamental roles as successor to the Apostles: his sanctifying role as priest, governing role as bishop and prophetic role as teacher.

“The Next Pope: The Leading Cardinal Candidates” is available for pre-order at (


Request a Review Copy
Members of the media may send an email to our Publicity Coordinator at to receive a complimentary review copy of “The Next Pope: The Leading Cardinal Candidates” or to set up an interview with the author, Edward Pentin.

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