I realize this is a dangerous article:  recommending three cardinals who might be the best selections to replace Pope Benedict XVI.

It's called throwing the dice in some circles. Really, how can anyone know who the cardinals will elect? And even then, do any of us know enough about all of them to make a good judgment on who the Holy Spirit might choose for that heavy cross -- err, role?

But still, I’d like to have a go at it just to know I tried, and if one of these are indeed picked, it would be rather exciting.

These three, except for Burke, are likely on very few persons’ lists. But that makes it all the more interesting.

1.  Cardinal Raymond Burke, 64 - Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura

OK, regular readers of LifeSiteNews.com could easily guess that this incredibly faithful, fearless, yet humble and holy former Archbishop of St. Louis would be one of our favorites. Having met Cardinal Ratzinger in person years ago, and Cardinal Burke a number of times in recent years, I have to admit there is a remarkable similarity in their personalities - both soft spoken, naturally warm and friendly, surprisingly humble, and not at all the pitbulls their critics make them out to be.

Like Ratzinger, Burke is also a man who would attempt to do what everyone knows needs to be done: to reform the Curia and many other aspects of the Church. I have not the slightest doubt that he would serve the Church and the world very well as Pope.

However, do the other cardinals see Burke in the same way? Hmm, so far I suspect he would not win a popularity contest among them, but then would even the real Jesus (Who severely challenged the religious leaders of His day) be any more popular with some of them? And of course, this selection has nothing whatever to do with popularity. Anything can happen though, especially considering the grave concerns for the future that exist at this time.

For a lot more on Cardinal Burke just enter his name in the LifeSiteNews search. Our website contains lots of articles – all good -- about him. Not that we were in any way trying to promote him. He has done and said a lot of newsworthy and positive things that were well worth reporting.

2.  Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, 80

“You can’t be serious?” many will say. He is 80 years old, and is not even permitted to vote – but he is eligible. Yup. All the talk is about a younger pope who can take on the very heavy tasks we know are ahead. Well, Arinze is, unlike Benedict, still in good health – as far as I know.

Here is the Wikipedia description of Arinze:

"Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, having served as prefect from 2002 to 2008. He is the current Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni (succeeding Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI) since 2005. Arinze was one of the principal advisors to Pope John Paul II, and was considered papabile before the 2005 papal conclave, which elected Benedict XVI."

The thing is, if the cardinals can’t agree on choosing any of the younger one of their brothers, it can happen, and has happened more than a few times, that they will opt for a safe, short-term papacy of an older cardinal – as they did with Cardinal Ratzinger. But more than that, they will do what the Holy Spirit leads them to do.

Arinze is also holy, humble, utterly faithful, and has shown he will do whatever has to be done. He is still a much more worthy and capable candidate than many of the other cardinals. Arinze would be certain to continue Pope Benedict’s and John Paul II’s reforms. Also look him up in the LifeSiteNews search.

Cardinal Arinze is comfortable with and liked by youth. He has a wonderful, engaging personality. See the video of his reaction to hearing in person of Benedict’s resignation announcement.

3.  Cardinal James Harvey, 63 – an American from Milwaukee and from 1998 until this past November, Prefect of the papal household under Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict. (Again see Wikipedia's entry here.)

This is a real longshot. Why would I mention someone who very few people have ever heard of and yet another American?

Cardinal Wuerl has just said that the Church should not elect an American. Also, Harvey was removed as Prefect of the papal household this past November following the Vatileaks scandal. He was the superior of the Pope’s butler who stole and passed on to Italian media large amounts of very confidential documents from the Papal apartment. It is said that Harvey was removed for badly failing the pope over this situation.

The scenario for Harvey’s dismissal sounds reasonable. Still, it is more than curious that Harvey was so very quickly made a cardinal by Benedict at a time when he knew he would soon be resigning the papacy.  Benedict would have clearly understood that his former, supposedly negligent prefect would not only be voting for his replacement, but would also be eligible to become pope himself. Hmm.

Until last fall, I had never heard of James Harvey. Then, on our visit to Rome this past November, I got an earful about the exceptional qualities of this man and how faithful he has been to both Popes John Paul II and Benedict. Amongst the Cardinals, Harvey has a high level knowledge of the workings of the Vatican and its Curia and an intimate understanding of the minds and goals of the last two popes and what they endured.

If faithful reform (as opposed to what all the "progressive" dissidents and media are calling for) of the Vatican and the Church in general is seen as an urgent need at this time, it just might be that Benedict knew Harvey was well-suited for the calling – and is relatively young for a cardinal, with lots of energy and years ahead. And solid, faithful.

So there, I’ve had some fun. To be sure, this is all just pure guesswork and speculation and probably off by a country mile. God likely has a very different choice than any of these three in His mind for the next papacy. Rather than us spending much time on speculating or promoting one or the other He wants Catholics to above all just pray a great deal for the new pope.

However, related to the issues of greatest concern to LifeSiteNews readers, I am sure these three would be among the best who would valiantly work to restore a Culture of Life to the world.

Whatever the outcome, which no one can know, the next few weeks or month or so will surely be fascinating. The world is going through great change these days and the Catholic Church will continue to play a major role in the drama - with whomever is elected as its new “Rock,” who will be Peter.