William Hill have installed Cardinal Peter Turkson as favourite at odds of 5/1 to succeed Pope Francis.
Upon such an outcome, Turkson, who is Ghanaian, would thus become the first black pope in history, albeit not the first to hail from Africa as a string of the Early Church’s papal heads are thought to have originated from the Maghreb.
“Not a Job for Life”
Whilst there are no explicit signs of an imminent departure from Pope Francis, Hill appears to be anticipating comments dating from the summer in which the Holy See reiterated comments he had originally made in 2015 that the papacy should not be considered as a “job for life”.
Turkson appears to be strategically well placed for the role – he is thought to enjoy some favour with Francis, having joined the latter’s visit to Ireland in 2018 as one of a select group of thirteen cardinals to preside over the World Meeting of Families, timed to coincide with the papal visit.
The Ghanaian’s real strategic asset for gaining the papacy, however, may be his views on homosexuality which chime much better with the Vatican’s inner circle than those of the current pope himself.
Other candidates on Hill’s list include the Archbishop of Manila, Luis Antonio Tagle at 6/1, who is in the running to become the first Asian pope.
American Cardinal Séan O’Malley is priced at 14/1. A previous papabile candidate back in 2013, O’Malley is known as one of the comparatively rare senior figures within the Catholic Church to have adopted a responsive attitude in regards to its endemic problem of child abuse.