ROME — As the Oct. 10 announcement of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize approaches, Pope Francis’ chances might have taken a hit yesterday: the director of The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) announced him a favorite, but the outfit doesn’t have a good record of picking winners.
The Argentinian pontiff, together with former NSA agent Edward Snowden and the Pakistani activist Malala Yusafzai, has been considered among the top contenders since the Norwegian Nobel Committee closed the nomination list Feb. 1.
As is customary, the renowned Oslo-based PRIO revealed its president’s predictions on Thursday, which although well-formed, is often unreliable. For the past decade, only one of PRIO’s favorites, former US vice president Al Gore, has won the much-coveted prize — in 2007.
If Pope Francis is presented with the award, he’d become the first pontiff to ever receive the distinction. The only Catholic of note to claim it so far was Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1979.
Saint John Paul II is among the notable omissions that have drawn criticism, together with Dorothy Day, an American journalist, social activist, and devout Catholic convert.
During an interview published July 26 in the Argentinian magazine Viva, Francis refused to even speculate about what he might do in case he’s awarded the Nobel Prize, which comes with a $1million cash award.
“The topic is not even on my agenda,” Francis said.
“I’ve never accepted honorary titles,” he said. “I don’t really think about those things, and even less about what I might do with that money. The thing is, regardless of any award, I believe we should all be committed to global peace. We should all give peace a chance.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee bases its assessment on valid nominations. A number of people around the world, including all members of parliaments, have the right to nominate. The members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee can also nominate candidates in their first meeting after the deadline.
In late February, the Nobel Committee announced that they had received 231 valid nominations, 43 of which are organizations.
Previous winners include President Barak Obama (2009), the European Union (2012), and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (2013).