Make your picks in the Vatican’s Sweet Sistine brackets!

More than 100 Roman Catholic cardinals will gather in the Sistine Chapel in March. One will emerge as pope. Who will it be? The “Sweet Sistine” is our guess at the top candidates from each continent.


More than 100 Roman Catholic cardinals will gather in the Sistine Chapel in March. One will emerge as Pope. Who will it be? The "Sweet Sistine" is our guess at the top candidates from each continent.

View results

About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.

About the author

Daniel Burke

Daniel Burke worked for Religion News Service from 2006-2013. He now co-edits CNN's Belief Blog.

About the author

David Herrera

David Herrera joined Religion News Service in 2011. He worked previously as a Web Assistant with the Religion Newswriters Association and as a Web Producer at the Detroit Free Press. He holds an M.A. from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a B.S. from Bowling Green (Ohio) State University.


Click here to post a comment

  • mr.candy, your point being? There are vast numbers of people who don’t give a ratzinger whether things are Biblical or not. And everyone who claims to “follow” the Bible cherry-picks shamelessly, despite claims otherwise.

  • Do you have any specifics? Because I used to think the same. Until I actually checked into it. Read John 6. Or the historical writings of the early church(more specifically the fathers). Or read Catholicism vs fundamentalism by Keating. All good sources. Not to mention. It was our catholic faith that put your bible together. It wasn’t a collection of books until then. This is a great website to visit. I converted to the faith, largely on the reality of the church as the scriptural Church. I know we don’t always live it out, and there is much more to be done, but Truth and the Word of God (logos) is with the Catholic Church. I challenge you to go with an open mind and do the research. Come back and answer me why the Church isn’t the true Church that Christ hoped us all to be in unity with?Hope you all have a wonderful paschal (easter) season, no hard feelings Mr. Candy

  • Given what I’ve read of past Papal Conclaves, usually the Cardinals themselves never narrow it down to 16 names before the first vote. I will find it totally amazing if the Cardinals, under influence of the Holy Spirit, pick the same Pope as this poll.

    And if either Robert Sarah or Peter Turkson get it, I have two Knights of Columbus in my council who will be downright insufferable (one from Ghana, the other from Guiena Bissau

  • It is not just open to ROMAN Catholics. Eastern Catholic Cardinals (Major Archbishops or Patriarchs) also have the right to participate and could be elected Pope. They are in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Mr. Candy,

    I was born and raised in the Catholic church, I have attended catholic school up until college (of which I attended a large state school) and I am a confirmed Catholic engaged to a practicing Mormon man. In all of my experience as a practicing Catholic, knowledge about the Church and also knowledge about most other sects of Christianity (having taken extensive theology classes/marrying outside of my religion) your exclamation that the Catholic church is unbiblical is absolutely absurd! With all due respect, considering I don’t know you, the Catholic church teaches you how to be a good person- this is the best way I can sum it up. You can throw in a philosophical argument and question: what exactly is ‘good’, but seeing how this is a religious website, and all of us believe in something, I think most of us can agree on a general outline of what ‘good’ is. Now, ‘unbiblical’ isn’t even a word, and the way I see it, that’s for a good reason. The bible has so many different stories explaining so many different lessons, many of them actually do contradict others, but if you narrow it down to the general themes, you are left with a few guidelines to live by: The Ten Commandments. This is simply interpretation. The Catholic church interprets the bible figuratively, not literally. I’m guessing this is what you’re referring to in saying that we are ‘unbiblical’. However, what I see as one of the most important lessons that the Catholic church teaches is TOLERATION. We are taught that there is truth in every religion, God is loving, forgiving and in absolutely everything. This is a lesson I would like for you to think hard about, toleration, before you claim that other religions are ‘unbiblical’. Religion aside, toleration is a good thing to practice as a human being as well, you may find that you are less inclined to write absurd, possibly offending things on websites, and you could spend your time making yourself a better person, creating your own happiness, rather than starting disputes online.

    Take care and God bless.

  • HEY…will the next Pope be infallible,the last one didn’t die and was therefore NOT infallible. All bets are off, and they wonder why there’s no asses in the pews anymore.

  • Put down the martini and read the bible, all of it, not just the parts you like. Then you will understand that the Catholic church is correct.

  • i think cardinal dolan wood do the job he great and fun i think he like pope benedict godbless the one who the conclave pick sorry god picks hope its dolan

  • Tagle all the way!!!!!!! Young intelligent fluency in many language unders all the issues charismatic modest and bring change to the catholic church.

  • I would love it if the Cardinal from Mexico, Brazil, or the Philippines got selected. It is time for a non European Pope, but not from the USA or Canada.

  • You’re an idiot. The Catholic Church has a long history of women and women in high states of grace and holiness. Starting with our Blessed Mother Mary. Perhaps you need to do some research on great Catholic women such as St. Catherine of Siena, St. Theresa of Avila, Mother Theresa, St. Cecilia, St. Gemma Galgani, Mother Lange, etc, instead of being a keyboard cowboy troll. Do yourself a favor and some research; perhaps you’ll learn something instead of trolling lies and hatred.

  • Conclave Novena Prayer:
    Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send down your Spirit over the conclave. Let the Holy Spirit inspire the hearts of the cardinals, that they may choose the man most pleasing to You, as Successor of Peter and Your Vicar on Earth. May Mary, Your Mother and Mother of the Church, be our Advocate. Amen.



  • I believe you were trying to say “You’re an idiot” as in you are, not your as in belonging to you. Not knowing your grammar can bite you when you’re insulting people.

  • Why is it if someone has a disagreement with ANY religion than their own, must they be so vocal, use disgusting language, and use blasphemy?? I am Catholic and do not appreciate it at all. I do not bash Lutherans, Muslims, or ANY other faith. I pray for you that you will find the grace inside you to keep your hurtfull comments to yourselves. I also pray that if you are wrong, the lord will forgive your ignorance. God bless everyone.

  • Hey put up some stats! Vertical leap, long jump, management capabilities, number of rosaries in 1hr, where do they stand on African or Eurpoean Swallows and their ability to carry a coconut.

    Just saying, you can’t expect us to make a choice like this without some critical information!

  • Hey–why won’t it let me vote? The website says voting closes at midnight on march 1, so voting should still be open. How do i vote? I am a subscriber.

  • Let’s pray for a Reformist. The sexual abuse must stop and the secrecy unveiled once and for all. Shame; shame, sinners.

  • Let’s pray for a Reformist. The sexual abuse must stop and the “celibates” brought to justice and expulsion. Shame, shame; sinners.

  • I am not Catholic. I have, however, seen the movie “Angels & Demons”. This chart makes me wonder: Which ones are the Preferiti?

    On a side note… I miss John Paul II. He was a wonderful man, whom I truly admire.

  • The Pope himself is never infallible, he is mortal and cannot be infallible. Now, the Pope can make a “Statement of infallibility”. These are extremely RARE. In fact, His Holiness Benedict XVI, made no Statements of Infalibility in his 7+ years as the Bishop of Rome.

  • This is completely disrespectful. Choosing a Pope is not some kind of athletic competition. This analogy is inaccurate and inappropriate.

  • Yet gay marriage or protected sex is not tolerated. So you really only teach TOLERATION when it suits your cause.

  • Come on guys….we are in the middle of Lent, on a religious website, talking about the next Pope. Do we really have to resort to petty name calling? This isn’t the “comments” section of YouTube. Let’s show each other respect, and if you disagree, turn the other cheek. I doubt that Jesus himself would be proud of some of the things written.

  • It is clear the combox assault brigade has no sense of humor. The only thing wrong with the brackets is no seedlings and not all cardinals are listed. Where are the RPI (Religious Power Ratings) ? Any bracket busters? What about conference tournaments? Who gets the top seeds ? The ACC (All Catholic Conference) Big Ten ? This is simply Hilarious.

  • Actually it is those that preach tolerance and diversity the most who only allow it insofar as you don’t say anything they don’t like.

  • I guess you could just start going to the Lutheran Church. Pretty much the definition of reformed Catholicism; LOL.

  • Where will we find the updates? I need to know who’s leading, and when I can vote for the next round.

  • This website was great until I saw all the arguing. EVERYONE HAS DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS OF FAITH! Me personally, I don’t believe that my catholic faith is any more real or touching than a Muslim or a Buddhist. The thing is faith is based on what works for you. As long as you have faith in SOMETHING that is fine! Most people have the notion that you have to convert someone of another faith to your faith because your faith is more true. How can anyone say that? That literally goes against everything that religion is about. It’s about living as a community and coming together to do good in the world and worship a higher being! If another group does it differently than me what right do I have to tell them that they’re wrong? Jesus’ main message was to love everyone, and I feel that a lot of people have lost that message. It is ok to talk about different faiths and see different viewpoints but when you walk away from the conversation it shouldn’t be like “wow he’s stupid for believing that.” It should be, “wow that was interesting, I wonder how God impacted him to make him see those beliefs.” Religious people say that they want a better world but that isn’t going to happen until we step off of our peristalsis and realized that all faiths are equal.

  • Cardinal Dolan is not humble enough; he’s too gregarious. Not a good choice. He appears a much too much on the Today Show with Matt L.

  • No American cardinal can win-all are too corrupt like that imbecil Mahony the worst example of corruption in all areas and the others are all suspect. Hopefully no mexicans -we need honorable ones and younger so the church can grow up past their “good ole boy” crap-make women priests-they have more honor and the church has always screwed the women over-the men get money, homes, the best wine closets I ever seen, are easily bought and cannot be trusted. The nuns were not allowed to hahve any money, do not get social security and most are in their 80-90’s and there are only a few younger nuns to care for them. They do not get any respect or help-they are the priests housenig______. They don’t need the silly costumes to prance around in and fancy meals while their parishoners are homeless and starving. The Vatican hides the worlds largest art museum which could be sold to feed the hungry, the Vatican and castle could hold humdreds of homeless and they are they very type that God ran out of the temples. God did not have money, pretty clothes and fancy buildings-why should they? I left the church because it was too phony and they were easily bought-they are just as bad as the mormons. They want to involve themselves in politics bu not pay the taxes or fees that come with it. They have millions of dollars but still demand from their poor parishioners. Pick anyone else but Americans or mexicans.

  • leave the gays alone-if God is really upset with it-he will deal with it. Give the women the rights they have earned and they would be better priests. Let the priests marry, do not allow them in seminaries until at least late 2’s so they see more of the world and don’t commit to something they are not ready for.

  • Tolerance is not, in itself, a virtue as popular (irrational) culture would claim. What society tolerates murder, rape, or robbery? No, there are things that should not be tolerated because they are bad for society and bad for individuals. Homosexual activity falls in this category, as does artificial contraception.

  • Don’t know where you get your information, but you’re wrong on numerous counts. Educate yourself before you write, please…

  • If the “Angels and Demons” movie was based on the Dan Brown novel of the same name, don’t rely on it as any kind of claim to understanding. It was full of deliberately misleading half-truths.

  • AMEN! The Catholic Church is not a corporation or a political entity. While I can understand the grasping for humor, it’s a sad commentary on our society when religious matters are mocked by people who have no understanding of the facts and, worse, don’t even want to know.

  • Clearly, you have never been properly taught your faith if you claim to be a Catholic and don’t see that it is the fullness of Christianity, which itself is the fullness of Truth.

  • Thank you dear people of God. Jesus showed us the way and since st. Peter many have tried to live it differently. Human thinking has created many religions but the line of Peter goes on and on. God loves us all and wants us to be good creatures; following the natural order of things save for where Jesus advised us to change that is sin. if homosexuality is one of Jesus’ tenets but its not let it be, pedophilia also is ungodly. But repentance and Metanoia is CATHOLIC: PENANCE. CONTRITION for ALL Lay and Clergy

    God bless you this lenten season

  • Lighten up, everyone! Someone sent me this to me as a joke. In reading the comments so far, it seems there may be just a few of us who have a sense of humor.

  • Ok, I dont know where you have gotten your information. But thats completely untrue. The whole religion of Catholicism is based off the Holy Bible. They believe in Jesus, they believe in the divine trinity, and they believe in both the old and the new testement. Please start judging when you have your facts correct.

  • There’s a wise saying to never open you mouth to give an opinion on a subject you know nothing about. Thanks for once again proving that wise aphorism correct.

  • cheshire cat, we don’t need pretentious grammar police; go preach in some vast left wing liberal mush for brain university. And by the way, since cheshire cat is a character in a fairy tale, you should have used CAPITAL letters as in Cheshire.

  • When I try to love my neighbors as I love myself, I notice that everyone, including the Church, wants religious liberty for themselves, and so I must extend that to others. The only cases I am aware of where “the tolerant” object to comments of the “tolerated” is where the comments can be seen to encourage violence against others, where they would create a hostile athmosphere for students, and where they are factually wrong.