1. I will be watching with great interest. Any time you have a chance to wait for the white smoke, it is up there with US Presidential Elections or World Cup championships, for international interest.
2. Despite my technical eligibility, I think there has never been a Pope of Irish descent, and my apostasy in becoming a Unitarian has seriously hurt my chances. But I figure if I can get Stu Levitan's backing, anything is possible.
3. The Euro bookies are having a field day on the early odds. Paddy Power of Ireland has Peter Turkson of Ghana at the early 3-1 odds, but I'd hold out for one of the Italianos, either Scola or Ravisi. See here: http://www.paddypower.com/bet/novelty-b ... pe-betting
The Brit house of William Hill has about the same oddsmaking. Note the Latinos of Argentina and Honduras being in the hunt: http://sports.williamhill.com/bet/en-gb ... t-XVI.html
4. A serious reading of Il Papa's Latin speech reveals that, after the usual ritualistic prayers, etc., all he said in resigning his post was "Hooh, boy, I'm too pooped to Pope!"
5. Since the entire College of Cardinals of eligible voters were appointed by Wotyla and Ratzinger, you can be assured that the next Pope will follow in their doctrinal stance, i.e., no serious changes. I predict one of the younger, media-savvy, conservative Europeans will assume Peter's Chair.
6. An interesting question -- and one I assume you could bet on at the Euro sites -- is whether the conclave will conclude its work and we will see the white smoke before Easter. Easter is early this year; Fat Tuesday is tomorrow, marking the start of Lent.
7. I have a personal theory, with no basis amongst my sources, that Ratzinger did this to try to create a new precedent that the Pope may resign as he becomes too old and feeble to work. The Ratz saw this happen to JP II, where his last years were a joke, and he saw it happening to himself. Ratzinger hasn't done much else to make a mark on the RC Church except to follow JP II's retrogressive policies, and at least admit the pedophilic scandal exists, so he sees this as a chance to make a real change in RC Church history.
Ite, Missa Est.