Although Pope Gregory XIV banned betting on papal elections in 1591, the practice continues: Paddy Power, an Irish bookmaker (www.paddypower.com), is risking the ire of the Catholic Church by offering wagers on the next Pope. Who are some of the best bets? Many gamblers and Vatican watchers are predicting a Third World Pope. One factor to take into account before placing your bet is age. The College of Cardinals will probably be looking for a Pope who is neither too old (John Paul I's death after a month in office still rankles) nor too young (many feel that John Paul II's twenty-six-year pontificate has been too long). Paddy Power has not limited its betting options to real people; two of the longest shots (at 5,000 to 1) are fictional churchmen: Father Dougal McGuire, the dim-witted priest on the discontinued British comedy Father Ted, and Reverend Lovejoy, from The Simpsons. Below is some of the recent action on the flesh-and-blood candidates. The odds are those being given by Paddy Power. —ELIZABETH SHELBURNE
Dionigi Tettamanzi (Italy): 2 to 1. If an Italian is to occupy the papal throne again, the odds are on this "wee fat guy," as Tettamanzi was once called by a Scottish cardinal.
Cláudio Hummes (Brazil): 5 to 2. A progressive in his youth who has become a traditionalist (albeit with a soft spot for the landless) in his old age, Hummes might appeal to those who would like a more moderate Third World Pope.