The New York Times is running some wonderful pieces on the next pope, the process, history, and future of it all. Click on the various interactive links and enjoy. Just some amazing stuff.
As for the next pope and who it will be… I have no clue. The bookmakers favorite, Cardinal Arinze from Nigeria, would be an interesting choice and profound choice, much like JPII was 27 years ago. But I think the ‘favorite’ status means he won’t win. Cardinal Bergoglio, the Argentinean, looks like he could be a compromise selection being a Jesuit but conservative, but he’s not Italian, and I still think we’ll see an Italian pope. Cardinal Ouellet is starting to pick up a lot of steam, but he’s probably too young. Cardinal Policarpo from Portugal has come out of nowhere, but I think the ‘hype’ surrounding him going into the Conclave will hurt him in the end. Cardinal Ratzinger will be working the room behind the scene, but I don’t think he’ll be elected pope, he’s probably too political in the end. Cardinal Schonborn is again, probably too young, but he may be the best bet if you’re looking for a non-Italian European frontrunner (he's Austrian), he may be your best bet. I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes down to being between Cardinal Scola and Cardinal Tettamanzi. Flip a coin at that point.
But odds are it will be none of the men listed above. But then again maybe it will, interesting times… interesting times. The Cardinals are in the Conclave as we speak. We’ll know in a few days, probably sometime Wednesday, who the new pope is. May God bless them and us all.