The next Pope? The betting begins

Bill Neely

Former International Editor

Pope Benedict XVI made his shock resignation statement today. Credit: David Jones/PA Wire/Press Association Images

This may be sacrilege, at a time of spiritual, or at least deeply religious news, but it's interesting that the Bookmakers are reluctant to put odds on a new Pope.

I haven't yet found one who will actually name the man (for a man it must be!).

Paddy Power puts odds on the country the next Pope will be from.

The favourite is Italy at 5/4 and there are indeed two very prominent Archbishops with a good chance of next wearing the white hat.

Next is Africa at 2/1 - there is a strong candidate from Ghana.

Canada is next at 5/2 - the former Archbishop of Quebec is a Vatican favourite.

Then South America at 11/4, with the United States fifth favourite at 4/1.

The bookies will also give odds on the next Papal name - Peter is the favourite here, with the usual Pius, John and Paul close behind. Only in Papal circles is Pius one of the favoured names.

But the individual himself?

That must wait until March, the Conclave and the famous white smoke.