Given the ongoing outcry as to what the current pope, Benedict XVI (#266), may have known of the worldwide clergy sex scandal when he was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (once the infamous Inquisition) from 1981-2005, the chances are that the next pope will be a Vatican outsider; i.e., not a high ranking curialist.
The jargon used to describe the allegiance and temperament of U.S. politicians as Beltway insiders or outsiders [the Beltway being a circular highway that girds Washington, D.C.], can also be used to characterize cardinals, papabili and popes – though in this case they are Vatican insiders or outsiders.
Cardinal Ratzinger was very much a Vatican insider. He headed up a key Holy See Congregation [i.e., a part of the Church bureaucracy] for 24 years. In marked contrast, John Paul II (#265), John Paul I (#264) and even John XXIII (#262) (despite his long service as a Vatican diplomat) were outsiders.
Here is the first point of reference. Of the nine popes elected since 1903 only two were curialist when elected, viz. Pius XII (#261) and Benedict XVI (#266). Both will be remembered for the controversies that plagued their pontificates – and in each case some of the controversies had roots going back to their days as curialist. In the case of Pius XII it was the concordats he had signed with Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia etc. which ‘influenced’ his attitude as to how he should deal with these countries. Paul VI (#263) had been a prominent curialist for 17 years, but he lost his insider status 11 years prior to becoming pope.
In my papabili list I only have one curialist, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, the President of the Council of the Family. He was one of my ‘token’ Italians – and I made that clear in my book ‘The Next Pope.’ The Council of the Family, by its sheer nature, would have been involved, in some way, with this current sad scandal. So the electors will, quite rightly, be leery of electing someone associated with that Council. As with Benedict XVI it would be too easy to start unearthing potentially incriminating evidence.
So that is my take. The current events strengthen the chances of the papabili who are not Vatican insiders. In this context I also think that actual physical distance will play a role. Latin America, in every sense, will come across as having been distant from Rome. This may even apply to Canada.