British bookmakers Paddy Power and Ladbrokes have already drawn up a list of contenders to replace Pope Benedict XVI, and topping both lists is Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana.
If the bookmakers are right, the era of an African pope may now have arrived, says the Guardian.
When Pope Benedict was selected in 2005, the paper wrote, “There was an overwhelming sense of an opportunity missed. After the Polish Pope, there is no longer a sense that the Vatican belongs to an Italian. Now, when half of the Catholic church's members are in Latin America and a further 165 million are in Africa, it seems inappropriate for him even to be European,” it said.
Turkson, 65, is the current president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, a position to which he was appointed by Pope Benedict in October, 2009. He had previously served as Archbishop of Cape Coast. He was elevated to cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2003. Paddy Power rates his chances at 9/4.
Following him in the bookmaker’s list are the Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, 68, the president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and another African, the 80-year-old Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria. Ouellet is rated at 5/2 and Arinze at 7/2. The leading European is the Italian Cardinal Angelo Scola, 71, at 7/1.
According to Paddy Power, there is little chance of an American being elected to the papacy. The top American challenger listed is Cardinal Raymond Burke, 64, the former Archbishop of St. Louis, who is currently Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in the Vatican. Paddy Power rates Burke’s chances at 25/1.
Also on its list is Cardinal Timothy Dolan, 63, the Archbishop of New York, rated at 33/1 and Cardinal William Levada, the former Archbishop of both Portland and San Francisco, who was the highest ranking American in the Vatican until he resigned in July, when he turned 75. Levada is rated at 40/1.
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