Who is favourite to be the next Pope - will Pope Francis resign? Odds explained after Pope Benedict death

Concerns over Pope Francis’ (right) health has led to many wondering who could succeed him as Pope. (Credit: Getty Images)Concerns over Pope Francis’ (right) health has led to many wondering who could succeed him as Pope. (Credit: Getty Images)
Concerns over Pope Francis’ (right) health has led to many wondering who could succeed him as Pope. (Credit: Getty Images) | Getty Images
The Catholic Church was in mourning after the Vatican confirmed the passing of former Pope Benedict XVI on New Years’ Eve

The death of Pope Erimus Benedict XVI, the first in centuries to resign from the post, was confirmed by the Vatican on New Years’ Eve.

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His resignation was groundbreaking in the modern age. The last pope to step down from the role before Benedict was Gregory XII in 1415, with all others up until Benedict holding the position until death.

The current leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has been in the role since Benedict’s resignation in 2013. However, with his predecessor paving the way, there could be a case in which Francis also voluntarily resigns, with some current concerns over his health regarding mobility issues.

The process of choosing a new leader of the church is a well-rehearsed one. The iconic white smoke billowing from the Vatican’s chimney is the signal Catholics all over the world look for when the announcement of a new Pope is imminent.

While Pope Francis hasn’t yet made the decision to step down, there are already some frontrunners to replace him should he decide to do so. But who is favourite to take on one of the most prestigious religious positions in the world when he vacates the role?

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Will Pope Francis resign?

Francis spoke frankly about the possibility of standing down as Pope while on an official visit to Canada in July 2022. There have been ongoing concerns over a knee issue which has made extensive travel difficult for the pontiff.

During his visit, which involved long travel days and the use of a wheelchair, Francis said that changing the Pope while the current leader is alive “is not a taboo”. However, he added: "The door [to retiring] is open - it is a normal option. But until today I have not knocked on that door. I have not felt the need to think about this possibility - that is not to say that in two days’ time I might not start thinking about it."

Francis has also undergone surgery during the summer of 2022. He underwent a colon operation, which was successful.

Who is favourite to replace Pope Francis?

Cardinal Peter Turkson is favourite to succeed Pope Francis as head of the Catholic Church. (Credit: Getty Images)Cardinal Peter Turkson is favourite to succeed Pope Francis as head of the Catholic Church. (Credit: Getty Images)
Cardinal Peter Turkson is favourite to succeed Pope Francis as head of the Catholic Church. (Credit: Getty Images) | Getty Images

According to betting blog OLBG.com, Cardinal Peter Turkson is favourite to replace Francis at the end of his tenure, with recent odds sitting at 4/1. The 74-year-old Ghanaian official would be the fourth Pope of African origin if he is to succeed Francis, and the first since the year 496.

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Cardinal Luis Tagel is also another name rumoured to be considered for the position. If he is to be appointed Pope, it also marks a move forward for the church, with the Filipino official - and former Archbishop of Manilla - possibly being anointed as the first Asian pope since Byzantine leader Pope Gregory III in 741. Tagel’s odds as of August 2022 was 6/1.

Other names in the running include Italian official Angelo De Donatis, Honduran cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Canadian cardinal Marc Ouellet and Italian cardinal Angelo Scola.

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