Sorry that it has been more than a month since I have written. All those Lutz toe-loops and twizzels during the Olympic figure skating competition made my head spin for days afterward.

However, I was once again so inspired by the bobsled competition, particularly because of the gold medal win for the U.S. four-man team, that I am considering renewing my quadrennial call for the Vatican to enter a bobsled team in the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia.
The Holy See takes sports seriously, given the Pontifical Council for the Laity has had a Church and Sport division since 2004.

It’s probably too late for them to consider entering racewalkers in the 2012 London games, but c’mon, there have to be a couple of people in Vatican City who could handle a bobsled, right? The possibilities for international evangelization would be tremendous as their sleds, Spiritus and Dominus, speed along the track. Hey, if you don’t like those, you’re welcome to suggest other names for the Vatican’s sleds.

Sports and religion in one bracket: There is a possibility — albeit a slim one — for an all-Catholic school Final Four in the NCAA men’s tournament. Eight Catholic schools received bids on Sunday: Georgetown in the Midwest; Marquette in the East; Gonzaga and Xavier in the West; and Siena, Notre Dame, Villanova and St. Mary’s of California in the South. How can you not cheer for Siena when their nickname is the Saints? But I’m torn, since those Saints face “my” Purdue Boilermakers in the first round. 

I want the Catholic schools to do well. My hope is that if I attended one of them, and that school goes deep into the tourney and gets an even bigger share of that TV money, that will be one less call and/or mailing I receive from that institution’s development office asking me for money.

Odds of another sort: They either don’t take much interest in the NCAA tournament in Ireland or the betting action has been slow because is posting odds on who will be the next pope.

They see Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments,  at 4-1. Three are listed at 8-1: Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, president of the Pontifical Counccil for Justice and Peace; Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice; and Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras. I met and interviewed the latter several years ago when he received an honorary degree from Carthage College. Definitely has a universal view of the church.

As for Americans on the list, Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 10-1; Archbishop Raymond Burke, head of the Roman Rota, 14-1; Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, 18-1; Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, 50-1; and Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, 80-1.   

For whatever it is worth, in 2005 correctly figured that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would succeed Pope John Paul II.