Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Turkson is currently the Irish favorite to come in and replace Pope Benedict XVI’s vacant seat in the Vatican following his surprise resignation.
Reuters reports that Irish bookmaker Paddy Power offered odds of 11/4 against for Turkson, meaning successful punters would win 11 pounds for every four staked, while Britain’s second largest bookmaker Ladbrokes offered odds of 5/2 against.
Should Cardinal Turkson actually be named Pope, it would be the first time in nearly a millenium that a non-European person held the role. Paddy Power has Italian Angelo Scola as the second favorite at 3/1 against.
Earlier in February, Cardinal Turkson rounded a different top three in the betting at Paddy Power - Nigeria’s Cardinal Francis Arinze and Canadian Marc Ouellet were alongside Turkson initially in the top three but have since fallen to the wayside.
“Pope Benedict quitting leaves a tall hat to fill – let’s just hope God gives him a good reference for his next job,” a Paddy Power spokesperson said in a statement. “As for the betting, the real action kicks off now.”
“While Turkson and Scola are currently out in front, let us not forget those fabled words ‘he who enters the conclave as Pope, leaves it as a Cardinal’,” the Paddy Power spokesman said.
Paddy Power said Turkson has attracted the highest number of bets, accounting for 15 percent of the market and is shouldering the biggest single bet of 5,000 pounds ($7,600).
Cardinal Turkson currently serves as the head of the Vatican’s justice and peace department, and has been tipped as Africa’s frontrunner in a contest heavy with speculation that a Latin American or African could be elected as chief of the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic population.
Paddy Power said that betting on who will be elected as the new pope is set to become the largest non-sporting market in its history. It said it had taken 300,000 pounds on “pope betting”.
Others who have their name in the betting pool? Well, none other than Father Dougal McGuire, the fictional and simple-minded priest from the beloved sitcom ‘Father Ted,’ who has already attracted more bets than real-life Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes.