The next pope is very likely to be African according to Paddy Power, Ireland’s leading bookmaker, who has come out with a list of “papabile,” those considered papal material.
The list comes at a time of increased health problems for Pope Benedict, who, at 85, has begun using a cane and is appearing more frail.
Favorite is Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, who is 15/8 (bet eight to win fifteen), while in second place is Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana at 9/4.
That’s two top Africans in the top two spots according to the bookmaker’s odds.
In third place in the odds is Archbishop Angelo Scola of Venice at 7/1 while in fourth is Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiago of Honduras at 10/1 while Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith at 33.1 rounds out the top five.
Rinze was considered papabile in 2005 when Benedict was elected, and he now has Benedict’s old job within the Vatican.
Against him is his age, he is almost 80 and may be too old when Benedict passes
Cardinal Turkson is only 64, born to a Methodist mother and Catholic father, and has said that "if God would wish to see a black man also as pope, thanks be to God.” The Catholic Church chronicler Rocco Palmo called Turkson the lone Scripture scholar in the Pope's "Senate" and believes that his status as a potential "papabile" has been elevated due to his appointment as spokesman for Second Synod for Africa in 2009.
Three recent popes have come from the Venice archdiocese which makes Cardinal Scola an automatic favorite as the top Italian. Church experts say the best outsider is Cardinal Marc Ouellet from Canada who handled the recent Eucharistic Conference in Dublin.