March Madness takes a Catholic angle with 'Sweet Sistine'

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- March is usually reserved for St. Patrick's Day and college basketball, but this year, we're adding the selection of a new pope. To play off the "Sweet 16" during March Madness, the  Religion News Service came up with a different kind of bracket called the "Sweet Sistine."

Sixteen cardinals filled the bracket and from there, popular votes moved them to the next round.
(Click for large image of bracket)

“You've got cardinals from all over the world 'bracketed' so the Sweet Sistine means the final 16 out of the field of 115,” explained Father Rob Clements from the ASU Catholic Newman Center in downtown Tempe.

Clements admits it's been fun to see who moves on and who doesn't.

"It kind of casts the conclave in the eyes of a tournament sort of speak, which it is really not, but at least it kind of gets people interested and kind of thinking and king of engaged," he said.

And just like the basketball tournament, there are upsets.

“Cardinal Braz de Aviz over Cardinal Sandri, that kind of surprises me. Cardinal Sandri is a pretty heavy hitter in the Vatican,” Clements said. "Actually Cardinal Onaiyekan over Cardinal Turkson, that would be something of an upset, so I suppose you could say this is your Cinderella winner.”

More than 37,000 people voted in the “Sweet Sistine” and in the end, the people’s choice and the Cinderella winner was Cardinal John Onaiyekan from Nigeria.