I found this bookies’ list on a UK Catholic blog giving the current odds on a replacement for Cardinal Murphy O’Connor after his retirement next year.
7-2 Kevin McDonald (Archbishop of Southwark)
9-2 Alan Hopes (Aux Bishop of Westminster)
9-2 Aidan Nichols OP
5 Vincent Nichols (Archbishop of Birmingham)
7 Michael Fitzgerald (Papal Nuncio in Egypt)
8 Patrick Kelly (Archbishop of Liverpool)
8 Arthur Roche (Bishop of Leeds)
10 Peter Smith (Archbishop of Cardiff)
12 Bernard Longley (Aux Bishop of Westminster)
14 Michael Evans (Bishop of East Anglia)
14 Timothy Radcliffe OP
16 Patrick O’Donoghue (Bishop of Lancaster)
20 John Rawsthorne (Bishop of Hallam)
25 John Crowley (Bishop of Middlesborough)
I find two names of particular interest there: Aidan Nichols and Michael Fitzgerald.
Father Nichols is deserving not only of being raised to the episcopate, but also of receiving the Red Hat which normally goes along with being Archbishop of Westminster. He has been overlooked in the past for such elevation, but would be truly worthy of such an honour. He is a man of great scholarship, incredibly humble (for a man whose is virtually an expert on everything), and has proved himself to be very wise and faithful to the magisterium of the church.
Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, is, I think quite unlikely to be chosen as the new Archbishop of Westminster, although he is no less worthy of being raised to the College of Cardinals. That is because in his new role as Papal nuncio to Egypt he is more valuable to the church than ever. Cardinal Bertone recently announced his intention for “an eventual strengthening of relations with the Arab League, which is headquartered in Egypt, while keeping in mind the competencies of this international body.” I read that as saying that Michael will finally get his own Red Hat as Papal nuncio, rather than the head of a curial Council or Metropolitan Archbishop. Such a move as this would really signal that the Vatican is serious in its relationships with Moslems.
I have met both of these gentlemen, and had the opportunity of entering into lengthy conversation with both of them, so I am not simply speaking from my knowledge of them through the media. There are many out there who are falsely maligned Archbishop Fitzgerald, associating him with certain views simply because of their antipathy towards interfaith relations. I would personally not only welcome either of these gentlemen as Cardinals, but also (as membership in this body implies) as candidates for a future papacy (should we ever have the opportunity of having an English Pope).