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Pope John Paul II (L) gives Mons. Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana his cardinal ring inside St Peter Basilica 22 October 2003 at the Vatican. / ARTURO MARI/AFP/Getty Images
LONDON Bookmakers have been quick to offer odds on candidates to replace Pope Benedict XVI, with cardinals from Ghana, Nigeria and Canada among the early favorites.
Ghana's Cardinal Peter Turkson, Canada's Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria lead in betting with Britain's major bookmakers.
William Hill made Turkson - one of the highest-ranking African cardinals at the Vatican - its 3/1 favorite Monday, followed by Ouellet at 7/2 and Arinze at 4/1.
Ladbrokes also had Turkson as favorite, followed by Arinze and Ouellet.
Ireland's Paddy Power also offered short odds on the three, as well as long odds on unlikely candidates - including U2 singer Bono at 1,000/1. It also offered 1,000/1 odds on Father Dougal Maguire, the simpleminded fictional priest from 1990s U.K. sitcom "Father Ted."
Professor Chester Gillis, a theology professor at Georgetown University and the dean of Georgetown College, told "CBS This Morning," that the church may choose a cardinal of a less "advanced age" and that while the possibility is "remote," Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, could be a candidate.
The timing of Pope Benedict's surprise announcement, coming days before the beginning of Lent - the 40 day period before Easter, the most important feast in the Catholic Church - presents a challenge to church officials who would like a new pope in place by March 24, the beginning of Holy Week.