Irish bookmaker opens bets for next pope

Irish bookmaker opens bets for next pope

Irish bookmaker opens bets for next pope

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he appears for the last time at the balcony of his summer residence in Castelgandolfo, south of Rome, February 28, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has begun taking bets on the identity of the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church, with Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson leading the way at 5/2.

As part of the bookmaker’s “Next Pope” category, members of the public can bet on what country the next pontiff will come from, his age, his first foreign visit and place a wager on whether he resigns from his post like his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

Irish singer Bono is also on the list, albeit at fairly long odds of 1,000/1. More surprisingly, British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, who is famous for his books on atheism, is also included on the list at the entirely coincidental odds of 666/1.

The odds of the next pontiff departing his post early were listed at a surprisingly short 5/2. Benedict XVI, who resigned Feb. 28 after waving goodbye to St. Peter's Square, is only the second pope to voluntarily quit in the church's 2,000-year history.

Preparations for electing the new pope began yesterday as the College of Cardinals met at the Vatican.

The Vatican has yet to issue any comment on the betting over the identity of the next pontiff.