While many have reacted to news that Pope Benedict XVI is planning to resign at the end of February with either concern, relief, or total and utter apathy, a select few met the news with something closer to glee: Gamblers. Since news of the Pope's future plans broke early Monday morning, people have been placing online bets on who will become the next leader of the Catholic Church.
According to online betting forum OddsChecker.com, for instance, Ghana's Cardinal Peter Turkson has the best odds of winning at 7-2, followed by Quebec's Cardinal Marc Ouellet at 4-1, and Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria at 11-2. That's three non-Europeans in case anyone's counting. Some less likely but far more well-known names on the list include U2 frontman Bono, singer Madonna, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. The usual suspects, basically.
PaddyPower.com also has Cardinals Turkson, Ouellet, and Arinze enjoying favorable odds. The site does list ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins as a far less likely candidate. As of this posting, however, Dawkins does enjoy slightly better odds than -- you guessed it -- Bono, at 666-1 versus Bono's 1,000-1. Of the two, Bono was the one raised Catholic.