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African Cardinal Says He Is Ready To Serve As Pope

The African cardinal who could become the first black pope predicted that the Roman Catholic Church may be ready to appoint a pontiff from the developing world and said that he was ready to serve.
Ghanaian Peter Turkson, 64, said that the Conclave of Cardinals to choose the next Pope, expected in mid-March, could recognise the growing maturity of the Church in the global South.

"For me, having someone from the southern part of the world Africa, Latin America, Asia - I would not be too surprise if that happened" He told reporters.

British and Irish bookmakers ranked Nigeria's Cardinal Francis Arinze, Peter Turkson of Ghana and Canadian Marc Ouellet on Monday as favourites to lead the Roman Catholic Church, setting odds swiftly after Pope Benedict's shock resignation.

William Hill, Britain's largest bookmaker, offered odds of 3/1 against for Arinze, or a probability of 25 percent, while Ouellet and Turkson were priced at 7/2 against, meaning successful punters would win seven pounds for every two staked.

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power had the same three cardinals as leading contenders but placed Ouellet as favourite ahead of the two Africans. Britain's Ladbrokes narrowly made Turkson its initial frontrunner.

"I have been taking bets on the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury for as long as I care to remember," said William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe, denying that gambling on the papal succession was blasphemous.

"It's fair to say that this is the first papal punt to be decided in the full Internet betting era," he added, noting the growth of online gambling could make for a more lively market.

"It's not going to rival the Champions League (soccer) but it will produce enough turnover to make it worth doing."
Pope Benedict XVI 9215013217253806716

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