Gambling with God:
The faithful fill St. Peter’s Square as Pope Benedict XVI attends his last public audience on Wednesday, February 27, in Vatican City. Benedict’s decision to resign earlier this month caught a lot of Vatican watchers, apparently even some in his inner circle, off-guard.
(CNN) — The love of money may be the root of all evil according to the Bible, but that hasn’t stopped bookmakers from offering odds on who will emerge from the white smoke as the next pope.
At odds as low as 2-1, Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, is the bookmakers’ favorite to succeed Benedict XVI, who Thursday becomes the first pope to step down for almost 600 years.
MORE: Pope to resign after eight tumultuous years
Those betting an African will take the Catholic Church’s top job for the first time will be happy to hear Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Turkson is running a close second at 5-2, while Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, is currently running third with odds of 7-2.
Claire Davies, a spokeswoman at Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, said more than £300,000 ($450,000) in bets on the next pope have been placed since Benedict’s resignation — and that’s before the papal conclave to choose the next church head has even started.