The lists went quiet when Cardinal Murphy O'Connor was asked to stay on, but the latest betting on the succession shows that things are beginning to stir. (The betting had remained pretty well unchanged through most of 2007 until the last couple of weeks. Here's how they stand (Name, current betting, (earlier betting)):
Rt Rev Vincent Nichols 2-1 (7-2)
Rt Rev Kevin McDonald 5-1 (7-2)
Rt Rev Alan Hopes 11-2
Fr Timothy Radcliffe 6-1 (10-1) (6-1)
Bishop William Kenney 15-2 (6-1)
Cardinal Pell 10-1
Archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald 10-1 (12-1)
Fr Aidan Nichols 11-1 (5-1) (6-1)
Rt Rev Patrick Kelly 12-1 (10-1) (12-1)
Rt Rev Arthur Roche 12-1 (10-1) (12-1)
Rt Rev Bernard Longley 12-1
Rt Rev Peter Smith 12-1
Rt Rev Michael Evans 16-1
Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue 16-1
Fr Christopher Jamison 20-1
Bishop John Rawsthorne 20-1
Bishop John Patrick Crowley Non-runner (33-1)
What does this say? First, that Abp Nichols is now a clear favourite, ahead of Abp McDonald.
Second, that Dominican fanciers have put their money on Fr Radcliffe (who is surely too liberal for the Pope's taste) ahead of the Pope's friend, Fr Nicols (an unlikely outsider, but the doubling of his odds is, well: odd).
Third, that an Outsider has become an outsider: were Cardinal Pell to follow Cardinal MO'C in Westminster, the Pope's most powerful English-speaking ally would come to Europe while still exercising a pastoral ministry (not least over the episcopacy of England and Wales). The Catholic Herald mentions the Abbot of Pluscarden and the Dominican Rector of Oxford as two other outsiders under consideration, even if no odds have been quoted for them.
Does anybody else get a sense that the succession in Westminster is going to be founded on serious change? What sort of a message does it send that two non-English or Welsmen are candidates?