With the Catholic Church currently embroiled in a sex abuse scandal, leading online bookmaker PaddyPower.com has shortened its odds on Pope Benedict XVI resigning his papacy from 12/1 to 3/1.
The Irish site stated that it shortened its odds following a ‘cascade of bets placed on the Pontiff stepping down’ with 77-year-old Francis Arinze from Nigeria favourite to succeed the current Pope at odds of 4/1.
Although rare, Papal resignations have occurred with Pope Celestine V stepping aside after only five months in 1294 while Pope Gregory XII was deposed in 1415. As recently as 2002, speculation was rife that then 82-year-old Pope John Paul II would resign due to failing health.
The latest scandal involves a chorister that was dismissed for allegedly procuring male prostitutes for a Papal gentleman-in-waiting.
“The dark clouds of clerical abuse scandals show no sign of abating and recent reports from Germany are surely a little too close to home for the Pope,” read a statement from PaddyPower.com.
“Current betting patterns hint towards a possible Papal resignation and should this happen Cardinal Arinze seems the most Papabile.”
Other favourites to be elected as the new Pope include Cardinal Angelo Scola from Venice, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga from Honduras and Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana at odds of 8/1. Longer shots include Argentina’s Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco from Italy and Cardinal William Levada from California at 10/1.