One of the more interesting news stories of the week was the way bookies were handicapping the papal election. I had a somewhat better inside source on this one–a free market overview. As part of my practice, which involves many, many religious organizations and the business of religion, I’ve come to realize that Catholics and bookies aren’t the only ones watching the Sistine Chapel roof; the multi billion pope business was also watching closely. Within an hour of Pope Francis making his first appearance, Church goods dealers were being flooded with Pope Francis trinkets, Pope Francis bobble-head dolls, biographies, photographs and other such things. You can even order Pope Francis garden statues, christmas ornaments and a host (no pun intended) of weird things like Pope Francis bottle openers, magnets, bracelets and the like. From what I’ve been able to gather, publishers had put together the quickie biographies of the half dozen most likely winners, so the Francis bio was able to go to press within minutes. Never mind the bookies–the printers were not surprised.† By some calculations, within the next thirty days nearly 1,000,000,000 Francis items will be sold worldwide. In Latin America alone, it is expected that 400,000,000 photographs will be sold for home use. Where is all this stuff being made? Nearly all of it will be made in China, India and Vietnam, some in Egypt. The point, ironically, is that the economic boom caused by the papal election will be most readily felt in non-Catholic countries. Just a few ironies on this day.† I was talking to a Jesuit at my law school, who joked that it is appropriate that China will dominate this market, since the new pope is, of course, Chinese. (Wun Lung Low).† Just some of the non-religious aspects of yesterday’s news.