John Paul II vs. Paddy Power

PapalWagers.jpgDid Pope John Paul II have a preference, or a premonition, about who might succeed him? This is not an angle appearing in many stories about the coming papal election, but two mainstream media outlets reported it in 2003.

Here is how Uwe Siemon-Netto of United Press International covered it:

Several months ago, the pope was reported to have said, “My successor is not even a cardinal yet.” Presumably, his preferred candidate is among the 30 prelates about to be raised to that rank.

And this is Desmond O’Grady’s report for The Age:

This year a visiting churchman, conversing with John Paul II, is reported to have mentioned a certain cardinal, adding “he’s widely tipped as your successor”. John Paul’s reply was said to be “my successor hasn’t yet been made a cardinal”.

The pope convened his ninth and final consistory in 2003 and appointed 30 more cardinals. (This comprehensive website, flagged by GR friend Rod Dreher, provides background on all of John Paul’s consistories.)

Only nine of those 30 cardinals appear on the three websites (Betfair, Paddy Power, Pinnacle Sports) mentioned in a Washington Post story about gambling on the papal election:

CardinalTitleBetting site citations
Ennio AntonelliArchbishop of Florence, ItalyThree
Philippe Christian Ignace Marie BarbarinArchbishop of Lyon, FranceOne
Tarcisio BertoneArchbishop of Genoa, ItalyThree
Josip BozanicArchbishop of Zagreb, CroatiaOne
Julian Herranz CasadoPresident of the Disciplinary Commission of the
Roman Curia, member of Opus Dei
Keith Michael Patrick O’BrienArchbishop of St. Andrews and Edingburgh,
Marc OuelletArchbishop of Quebec, CanadaOne
George PellArchbishop of Sydney, AustraliaTwo
Angelo ScolaPatriarch of VeniceThree

These cardinals are not without controversy. Opus Dei makes lots of people nervous, and George Pell has faced allegations of sexual abuse (an inquiry panel found him innocent). Of the 30 cardinals, even the Italians are longshots — if the bookies are any reliable guide.

Depending on how the Holy Spirit guides the cardinals when they meet in conclave, Pope John Paul II may prove prophetic in a way few people could have anticipated.

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  • dw

    There’s one rumor floating out there that it’s the in pectore cardinal that is his choice, considering that it’s probably a Chinese archbishop and would be JPII’s parting shot against Communism.

    I don’t believe it myself. Just seems too far-fetched.

    The pope game is pretty useless, honestly. You have a better shot at March Madness than you do betting on who the next pope will be.

  • Lola

    Well … since this in pectore cardinal apparently wasn’t named in the spiritual testament, that means nobody knows who it is, and you can’t vote for someone for which you don’t have a name to write down. Or can you?

  • James Freeman

    My prediction (remember, you heard it here first):

    Gabriel Zubeir Wako, archbishop of Khartoum, Sudan.

  • VicarDave

    Scola is a serious candidate. Maybe I should get in on the betting if his odds are low. I could also see Ouellet being selected, or even Antonelli. But I wouldn’t take the prophecy too seriously.

  • Joel

    Pell has a reputation for orthodoxy, if I recall, that puts him at odds with the other Australian (and American, for that matter) bishops.

    Of course, JPII couldn’t really select his successor anyway, and as you point out, conclaves are notoriously unpredictable. I’m still betting on Arinze, personally.

    I would love to see an Eastern Rite pope, but it doesn’t look likely this time around. This will probably be the last conclave in the lifetime of either Jack Chick or Ian Paisley, and I’d love to know what they would say if the pope wasn’t Roman Catholic. It’d screw up their eschatology no end.

  • cheyan

    What *would* happen if the Pope were from one of the Eastern rites?
    Would the Masses at the Vatican (and World Youth Day, if he continued having those) be in that rite?

  • jjayson

    What, no mention of Tradesports — — the largest market? All the betting locations in the article have set odds, whereas Tradesports operates like a stock market.

    The last traded price of Tettamanzi to win (PAPACY.TETTAMANZI) is 21.5, meaning a bet of $2.15 was made, and if Tettamanzi wins, the buyer wins $10 (netting $7.85). This also translates into a 21.5% chance.

    The last traded price of “the Next Pope of the Roman Catholic Church to be from Italy” (PAPACY.ITALY) traded at 38.8.

    The best part is that you can see the prices move.

  • Douglas LeBlanc

    Thanks for the mention of Tradesports, and please chalk up the omission to my total ignorance of the online wagering/markets culture.

    It will be interesting, once the cardinals have made their choice, to see which site was closest in its odds — and to see if anyone hits the papal jackpot.

  • Joel

    Cheyan, that’s something I’ve wondered about myself. From what I can gather, since the See of Rome is Latin Rite, a bishop ordinarily (no pun intended) would change rites to accommodate that See. However, since the pope is at the head of all rites, I suspect he would have to function in some kind of dual role, rather like a religious priest in a secular diocese.

    I think I’ll check in with a canon lawyer on this one.