Within a month or so, one of the 117 Cardinal electors will be asked that question by the Dean of the Conclave. You can just bet some of them are already working out the answer they will give just in case. (They will deny this, of course, but if we are thinking about it, they will be too.) In the last few days there has been plenty of reflection on the significance of the name chosen by Joseph Ratzinger eight years ago (here is one example from L’osservatore Romano).
Josh’s post on this matter prompted me to post on the same subject.
I have been reading several pieces by George Weigel in the last few days (eg. here in First Things and here on the ABC Religion and Ethics Website). I have ordered his new book Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st Century Church. His thesis, broadly stated, is that John Paul II and Benedict XVI have completed an arc begun by Leo XIII, which is the rejection of an inward looking Counter-Reformation institutionalism in favour of the outward looking “Evangelical Catholicism” of the title.
I also read somewhere the comment that the new pope will need the strength of a whole pride of lions to face the challenges ahead (can’t find the source of that comment just now, but I think it was in L’osservatore Romano somewhere).
Anyway, putting all that together, and counting that we won’t get a brand new name or Peter II or some such thing, and at the same time discounting the idea that we will get another Pius, John, Paul, or Benedict – all of which have been rather done over in the last hundred years – my money is on “Leo XIV”. It would be a neat way of stating that the new pope ain’t going to be a pussy cat in the face of the huge challenges ahead, and at the same time drawing together the whole arc of the history of the modern papacy, don’t you think?