Since the pope wears white, a reporter recently asked Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi what a pope emeritus wears. The spokesman didn't know, but my son, Aaron, who is not a member of the Vatican press corps, suggested that Benedict could wear off-white.

Papabili by the pack: Catholic News Service has compiled a "12 to watch" list of cardinals as the conclave approaches. You can read it at No surprise that Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan is listed. If he were to be elected pope, don't you wonder who he would name as his successor in New York?

There are no "prop" bets for this, but if Cardinal Dolan were elected pope — has him at 33-1 — I'm convinced that his first words, in Italian or English, to the multitudes gathered in St. Peter's Square would be, "How you doin' everybody? Great to see you!"

Pastorally speaking: Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki has written his first pastoral letter titled "Who Do You Say That I Am?" Having heard on several occasions during my 35+ years of church work that bishops write pastoral letters for other bishops, I asked the archbishop if he had sent it to his brother bishops.

"I didn’t write it for my brother bishops. I wrote it for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. My brother bishops are welcome to read it; they can steal it if they want. They can use it, reformulate it," he said. "I wrote it for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee; this is where we are; this is what we need to address, with an eye toward the possibility of a synod."

Pastors have received the letter; parish staffs will receive it in March. The rest of the faithful will have access to it by fall.

Party time: Saturday, Feb. 23, the Feast of St. Polycarp, is the birthday of internationally renowned anthropologist and former stand-up comedian, Jesuit Fr. Ray Bucko.

Papal postscript: Fr. Domenic Roscioli is out front on the whole conclave. He offers papal pancake mix. As he says, "You know they're done when you see a wisp of white smoke." Order yours at