In the grand scheme of things it’s anybody’s guess, but a leading oddsmaker says three top Catholic leaders — one from Africa and two from Italy — have the best chances of becoming the next Pope.
As of Friday, Ireland’s Paddy Power has Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Turkson the favorite to succeed Pope Benedict with odds of 5-2 — put $2 on and win $5 if he is elected.
Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola, is second favorite at 11-4, followed by another Italian Cardinal, Tarcisio Bertone.
Paddy Power’s leading contenders for the papacy are:
5-2 Cardinal Peter Turkson, 64, (Ghana) President, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
11-4 Cardinal Angelo Scola, 71, (Italy) Archbishop of Milan.
4-1 Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 78, (Italy) Vatican Secretary of State.
8-1 Cardinal Marc Ouellet, 68, (Canada) Prefect for the Congregation for Bishops.
10-1 Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, 70, (Italy) Archbishop of Genoa.
10-1 Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, 70, (Italy) President, Pontifical Council for Culture.
14-1 Cardinal Peter Erdo, 60, (Hungary) Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest.
16-1 Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, 68, (Austria) Archbishop of Vienna.
16-1 Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, 69, (Argentina) Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
16-1 Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, 55, (Philippines) Archbishop of Manila.
25-1 Cardinal Odilo Scherer, 63, (Brazil) Archbishop of São Paulo.
25-1 Cardinal Francis Arinze, 80, (Nigeria) Cardinal-Bishop of Velletri-Segni.
25-1 Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, 70, (Honduras) Archbishop of Tegucigalpa.
25-1 Cardinal Sean O’Malley, 68, (United States) Archbishop of Boston.
33-1 Cardinal Timothy Dolan, 63, (United States) Archbishop of New York.
40-1 Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, 68, (Italy) Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.
40-1 Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, (Argentina) Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
40-1 Cardinal Reinhard Marx, 59, (Germany) Archbishop of Munich and Freising.
Paddy Power spokesman Rory Scott told USA Today, “We are expecting this Pope-betting to be the biggest round of nonsporting betting in Paddy Power history — it’s a big market.
“It’s going to pick up as we head into conclave and we think it will reach about $7 million (U.S. dollars).”
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Several other European bookmakers have also posted odds on the next pontiff. Almost all have Turkson and Scola in the top two positions, with Bertone third. However, oddsmakers in the United States aren’t in on the action because it’s illegal to place bets on elections.
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