I have no idea what thoughts go through a man's head as he's contemplating being chosen pope. How do they pick a name, for example? I suspect many, if not most, of the cardinals who will vote in the conclave have considered the possibility they may be elected; and if so, they've thought about a name.
In any case, I note that popes have, for a very long time, taken a name someone else had before them. The last pope who wasn't the 2nd or sixteenth (not counting John Paul I) was Pope Lando in AD 913!
A pope can use any name; he needn't take a new name at all. But considering it has been 1,100 years of the same thing, breaking such a precedent would be rather startling, and I don't know why a new pope would want to start that way. So I'm guessing the next pope will not be ____ the 1st.
So what might it be? And what would the choice signify?
Benedict XVI? It seems to happen a lot--two popes in a row with the same name.
John Paul III? I doubt it, because it might seem as a commentary on Benedict XVI.
Paul VII: Let's revisit Vatican II. And let's talk about Humanae Vitae!
John XXIV: because it might be fun to see just how many Popes John we can rack up.
Pius XIII: this would scare some people.
Leo XIV: this would really be a curve-ball.
Gregory XVII: this cool name has been in mothballs long enough! (Last used in 1846.)
Clement XV: the previous Clement suppressed the Jesuits and knighted 14-year-old Wolfgang Mozart.
Going further back, we come up with: Innocent XIV; Alexander IX; Urban IX;
Sixtus VI; Marcellus III;
Martin VI; and Boniface X.
So what would you like to suggest, and why?
(And, before someone suggests it, I doubt anyone is going to dub himself "Peter II"--that'll really mess with people's minds as well. But why not Linus II?)