With Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation just around the corner, speculation on who will be the next pope is going strong. There is a range of candidates, but oddly enough, a strong indicator of the most popular candidate may be an unusual source: papal betting.
Betting on who will become the next pope is illegal in the United States and in many European countries because it is considered an election, according to USA Today. However, it does provide an interesting window into which candidate is the most popular worldwide.
According to a popular Irish bookmaking website, the five most popular contenders are:
1. Cardinal Peter Turkson (Ghana)—Born in Western Ghana to a Methodist mother and a Catholic father, Turkson is “generally seen as affable, open, with a lively sense of humor and charmingly frank,” according to the National Catholic Reporter (NCR).
2. Archbishop Angelo Scola (Italy)—The Archbishop of Milan, Scola, is popular and often in the spotlight. He comes from the same intellectual school of thought as Benedict XVI. Some worry that as an Italian, Scola may be too enmeshed in the politics of the papacy to win the vote, according to NCR.
3. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (Italy)—Born in Romano Canavese, Italy, Bertone has been called the pope’s “right hand man.” His recent time in the spotlight has been on the sidelines of a Vati Leaks scandal.
4. Cardinal Marc Ouellet (Canada)—Called “affable as well as cosmopolitan,” by the Ottawa Citizen, Ouellet also comes from the same school of theological thought as Benedict XVI. He is a hockey fan, according to the Citizen.
5. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco (Italy)—Bagnasco was born in Pontevico and grew up in Genoa, Italy. Long in the spotlight, he served as the president of the Italian bishops’ conference in 2007, according to NCR.
The first American contender—Cardinal Timothy Dolan from St. Louis, Mo.—does not appear until 15th place in the books, followed by Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, Mass.
Regardless of the preferences of gamblers worldwide, the actual election of the next pope falls on the College of Cardinals, which will meet in Vatican City in March.