PAPAL ODDS….Via the BBC, here are the odds on the next pope, courtesy of an Irish bookmaker:

In recent days, the odds on an Italian cardinal becoming pope have lengthened, while the prices for some candidates from the developing world have shortened.

The clear favourite now is Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, a Vatican insider who could become the first African pope for 1,500 years. Current odds: 3-1.

….But who is betting on the papacy? The bookmaker cannot be sure, but some of the smart money may be coming from the clergy.

“There is nothing wrong in priests having a bet, and you often see them at the races,” says Paddy Power.

Personally, I’m plumping for Jaime Ortega. I don’t know anything about the guy, and for all I know he might be somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun. But a Cuban pope would be kind of cool. After all, anything that annoys Castro can’t be all bad.