Inspired by William Safire’s annual Office Pool of predictions for the coming year, I am herewith inaugurating a “Catholic Pool” for 2009. Safire’s 2009 NYT pool column ran last Sunday, and you have to hand it to him for keeping it going even though he has an almost unbroken record of guessing wrong. Perhaps it is wishful thinking on his part; perhaps it is the peril of being a conservative in a bad decade (or generation) for Republicans.
In any case, I shall not be critical, as I am jumping into the deep end myself. And I’ll even go all the way and post my answers in the “extended” reading tab at the end. Feel free to post comments and suggestions, but above all, record your own answers. We’ll check back in a year…
ONE: Pope Benedict XVI’s anticipated visit in May to the Holy Land will be:
a) Derailed over ongoing violence between Israel and the Palestinians;
b) Hailed as a breakthrough as the pope’s visit leads to an unexpected truce;
c) A source of renewed Jewish-Catholic tension over the upcoming beatification of Pope Pius XII and Benedict’s remarks on the Holocaust;
d) A breakthrough in Jewish-Catholic relations as Benedict makes a public examination of conscience over the role of the German church in World War II.
e) Longer than expected, after the Pope unexpectedly “converts” to Judaism and takes the name B’nedict.
TWO: Pope Benedict’s first visit to the African continent in March–to Cameroon and Angola–will be:
a) The spark that helps bring down the Mugabe regime in nearby Zimbabwe;
b) Overwhelmed by coverage of an American-led force sent in to remove Robert Mugabe;
c) Dominated by criticisms of evangelical and Pentecostal “sects” by Benedict that elicit comparisons to his Regensberg speech on Islam;
d) Dominated by headlines about the papal in-flight showing of Cardinal Arinze’s favorite movie, “The African Queen” in which the scenes depicting the Germans are deleted.
THREE: Pope Benedict XVI will create a new flock of cardinals, with the “Jesuit hat” recently vacated by the departed Avery Dulles, SJ, going to:
a) Fr. Thomas Reese;
b) Fr. Joseph Fessio;
c) Fr. James Martin;
d) Fr. Edward T. Oakes;
FOUR: The next Archbishop of New York will be:
a) Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory;
b) Military Vicar Archbishop Timothy Broglio
c) Bridgeport Bishop William Lori;
d) Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee;
e) Cardinal Edward Egan, who will repeat as archbishop;
f) Blogger Rocco Palmo, who will announce his own appointment three weeks before the Vatican does.
FIVE: Relations between the U.S. hierarchy and the Obama Administration will be characterized by:
a) A battle over Obama’s first nomination to the Supreme Court;
b) Cooperation rather than confrontation on abortion-related issues;
c) Clashes over Obama’s support for civil unions for homosexuals and a modification of the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy on gays in the military that the bishops argue infringes on their trademarked seminary practice;
d) Episcopal infighting over whether to invite the Obamas to join a Catholic parish in Washington so they can be denied Communion.
SIX: The next great battle in the “Liturgy Wars” will be over:
a) Kneeling to receive communion on the tongue;
b) Moving the “sign of peace” forward to near the start of the Mass;
c) The pope’s decision to allow or bar women as fully-recognized lectors;
d) Banning any song with the words “gather” or “people” in them more than once;
e) “Re-introducing” Aramaic into the Mass;
f) New regulations on how many inches of lace must be worn on an alb.
SEVEN: The next great theological debate will be over:
a) The Virgin Mary as Co-Redemptrix;
b) Donatism: Was It Really So Bad?;
c) Remote material cooperation;
d) Material remote cooperation;
e) John Henry Newman: Gay or Just Good Friends with that Fellow?
EIGHT: Following on the embrace of Galileo, the Vatican will surprise the world by rehabilitating:
a) Gustavo Gutierrez, a Dominican priest and a founder of Liberation Theology;
b) Girolamo Savonarola, a Dominican priest who was burned at the stake after leading a crusade against “immoral” Renaissance art;
c) Giordano Bruno, a Dominican priest who was burned at the stake for advocating free-thinking ideas and heresy;
d) Thomas Doyle, a Dominican priest and canon lawyer who is a leading critic of the hierarchy’s failings on sexual abuse;
e) Non-Dominican Charles Darwin, who 150 years ago published scientific claims that almost mirrored that which the Church has always taught…
NINE: The biggest name to become Roman Catholic in 2009 will be:
a) George W. Bush;
b) Philip Seymour Hoffman;
c) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad;
d) Mel Gibson;
e) David Gibson.
TEN: The biggest name to be canonized in 2009 will be:
a) Pope John Paul II;
b) Pope Pius XII;
c) Pope John XXIII;
d) Pope Pius IX;
e) NCR’s John Allen, after he is credited with a miracle of bilocation.
ELEVEN: In his long-awaited encyclical on social justice, Pope Benedict XVI will:
a) Continue the theme of his previous encyclicals and highlight charity, or love, as the sine qua non of social justice;
b) Declare that charitable actions that are not motivated by or in comformity with divine Truth as incompatible with Catholic faith;
c) Forget to mention social justice;
d) Begin with the words, “Can’t we just be friends?” leading to the unusual official title, “Possumusne esse amici”.
TWELVE: In a surprise move, the College of Cardinals will:
a) Expand their numbers by including the first non-ordained member since the nineteenth century;
b) Meet to discuss contingency plans for a papal retirement;
c) Lengthen the cappa magna to a minimum of fifteen feet;
d) Offer courses for credit;
e) Change the official color of their robes from “red” to “bright red.”
1) B and C
3) None of the above: A nice gesture would be scripture scholar and longtime theologian at the Gregorian, Gerald O’Collins, SJ.
5) A and B
6) A, B and C
8) All of the above, except D
9) Not touching that one.
11) A and B
12) B (with a move to continue debating C)