I’ve already lost count of the number of e-mail and Facebook enquiries which invite my comment on the conclave and the next pope.

To be honest, speculating on the next pope is as distasteful to me as speculating on my next parish assignment. Perhaps it’s superstitious on my part, but it feels like I’m second-guessing the Holy Spirit, and into the bargain prejudicing myself against the mysterious will of God.

So here’s my one and only foray into conclave watching. Early enough that it can be easily forgotten — particularly by me — by the time white smoke billows from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.

First though, I can’t not recommend an article on Crikey, which is so bad it’s good. Here’s an appetiser:

This is high human Machiavellian drama played out by sophisticated princes (there are no princesses), pampered and refined in sumptuous Baroque gem-encrusted costumery, gold-plated chalices, priceless art collections and all the trappings of fabulous wealth. Canberra politics seems to lack a certain lustre by comparison.

Why let the facts get in the way of a good story, right? And this is a very good story. I enjoyed it immensely! Inside the Vatican: The West Wing meets The Da Vinci Code.

On the question of the next pope, who can go past Sandro Magister? I’m surprised that in his first profile of papabile, he doesn’t even mention Cardinal Turkson. But I was taken by his musings on Cardinal Tagle:

One of his limitations could be the fact that he is 56, one year younger than the age at which pope Wojtyla was elected. But here the novelty of Benedict XVI’s resignation again comes into play. After this action of his, youth will no longer be an obstacle to being elected pope.

Cardinal Tagle, you will recall, was recently canonised by me. (Anyone who protests my lack of authority in this realm should also recall that His Eminence is still alive on earth, so I’ve usurped not only the role of His Holiness the Pope, but also our Lord the Just Judge. That should indicate how seriously I take my own judgement. Nonetheless, I stand by it, and I know that my Filipino brothers in the seminary agree with me!)

Last, but not least, I recommend an excellent e-book guide to the conclave. The UK’s Catholic Truth Society has just published Conclave: Step by step through the papal interregnum. “Written by Mgr Charles Burns, the Ecclesiastical Adviser at the British Embassy to the Holy See, this free publication explains simply and clearly what happens before, during and after a Papal election.”