Taking Odds On The Next Pope


You’ve heard the big news: Pope Benedict XVI has unexpectedly announced his resignation as leader of the Catholic Church as of Feb. 28th. As in: donezo; sayonara; hasta la vista, baby.

That’s right, the pope just put in his two weeks like some dude working at a Best Buy.

But you’re not exactly concerned with ecclesiastical jurisdiction, conservative theology, or papal smears. Hell, you can’t even tell which one of those terms I made up. You, you’re a shark, ready to pounce; a real smart guy, a sharp. “Where’s the action?” you’re asking. “How can I make a pretty penny off this one? Some bread, some dough, some 100% organic whole wheat multigrain double-protein rye, a couple communion wafers for the road. My baby doll’s been casting sideways glances at me and daddy needs a new pair of shoes.”

Well, here’s the skinny, wise guy: the odds on the very next Servant of the Servants of God. Now it’s time to check the money line and make a wager. Tease the parlay and hedge against the spread. Go fish. Find out what the hell “vig” means.

And for you cynics who think Pope Benedict is tugging our chains (the old Pope Rope-A-Dope trick), how’s about you take a long walk down a short pier and tell me what it’s like to get wet: At a news conference Monday, Vatican spokesman Reverend Federico Lombardi said that a new pope would most likely be elected by Easter. So while you’re filling Easter eggs with the kids ‘cuz you got holiday visitation rights, I’ll be tallying tender and planning my vacation to Waikiki.

One thing’s for sure: If Pope Benedict XVI has anything in common with Danny Glover, these next two weeks will feature some of his wackiest adventures yet.

The Odds

Cardinal Marc Ouellet (Canada) 4-to-1 Odds

Pros: Drops Latin masses like Gucci Mane drops mixtapes, holds down the pulpit like Jay-Z rockin’ the mic; surprising amount of swag and street cred for a Canadian. Prays daily.

Cons: Drinks Molson. Has claimed that if chosen as pope, he will get the ceremonial papal headpiece fitted with denim.

Cardinal Francis Arinze (Nigeria) 6-to-1 odds

Pros: Hasn’t committed a sin since 1949. Due to a rather amusing mishap, once inadvertently attended a Jimmy Buffett concert and turned the other cheek so many times in a three hour span that he actually created a fluke gravitational field and pulled dozens of nearby BBQ grills and empty kegs into orbit around him.

Cons: He’s freaking 80-years-old; he calls FM radio “a fad” and his family has gone to elaborate lengths to prevent him from ever discovering that Diagnosis: Murder got cancelled like 10 years ago.

Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson (Ghana) 11-to-1 Odds

Pros: Has that underrated priest-skill of atonally chanting in a way that is oddly soothing and melodic. Huge karaoke hit at parties.

Cons: History of not covering the spread, coming up small in big games. Vulnerable to zone defenses and the full-court press. Involved in a point-shaving scandal in the late 70s.

Cardinal Angelo Scola (Italy) 12-to-1 Odds

Pros: 100% legit Italian: talks with his hands, hits the club scene, knows a guy named Sal, can pronounce mozzarella without using consonants.

Cons: Some claim he’s more focused on his part-time DJing gig than the papacy.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan (US) 20-to-1 Odds

Pros: This guy loves Jesus.

Cons: Never quite got around to reading the whole bible.

Tim Tebow (US) 500,000-to-1 Odds

Pros: Heisman Trophy winner. Has an NFL playoff win under his belt. Would be our most physically attractive pope since “Luscious” Leo XIII.

Cons: The Catholic Church would have to work out a trade, as it seems unlikely the Jets will release Tebow due to the punitive salary cap hit it would cost them. However, if the Church is willing to take on Tebow’s salary and part ways with a late round draft pick, a deal with the unpredictable Jets could be brokered.

Oh, and he’s not Catholic. That might be an issue.

Regis Philbin (US) 1,000,000-to-1 Odds

Pros: Famously associated with Notre Dame.

Cons: No, the other Notre Dame.

Martin Scorsese (US) 5,000,000-to-1 Odds

Pros: Has made some of the most iconic films about Catholic guilt and the complexities of contemporary faith of the last 40 years. Almost entered the priesthood as a young man.

Cons: He comes across as kind of Jewish sometimes, right?

Joe Biden (Parts Unknown) 10,000,000-to-1 Odds

Pros: Seems like he’s got plenty of free time.

Cons: Has admitted he’s “not familiar with the position.”

Mel Gibson (US/Australia) 750,000,000-to-1 Odds

Pros: Made The Passion of the Christ.

Cons: Comes on a little strong sometimes.

Ruben Studdard (US) 800,000,000-to-1 Odds

Pros: Potential media-friendly nickname: “The Howard Taft of Popes.” And in case you haven’t heard, he’s legitimately sorry for 2004.

Cons: Barely beat Clay Aiken in a popularity contest.

Dom DeLuise (US) 1,000,000,000-to-1 Odds

Pros: He’s Roman Catholic.

Cons: So are 1 billion other more likely candidates.

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