Why is there such a large pool of possible popes?
The pool of possible future popes has expanded beyond anyone’s imagination.
I think it’s an interesting facet of the recent history of the papacy that the pool of possible popes has expanded beyond anyone’s imagination in say the first Conclave of 1978.
I mean in September 1978, well it seems likely that Cardinal Wojtyla who would become John Paul II six weeks later did get a few votes. It was simply assumed by everyone, by most people and by the relevant people, namely the cardinal electors, that the next pope would be an Italian.
And then the question broke down what did you a Curial Italian or do you want a residential bishop Italian. The last three conclaves have really exploded the myth that the Pope has to be an Italian so the pool of possible popes has increased dramatically geographically, racially, ethnically, etcetera.