A flurry of reports in the press told us that somebody had tried to put £40K on a priest of the Westminster Diocese, Mgr Curry, to succeed Cardinal MO'C. Paddy Power explained how he didn't take bets of that size on novelty books and said, to anyone who had eyes to see, that they would lose too much money if the bet came off! They added him at 40-1, but there are no other changes.
There was a whiff of a desperate bid to garner a last bit of momentum: everybody knows that the announcement will come soon; Paddy had his last chance of milking a few more pounds (and euros?) off a few latecomers, and the reports in the papers will have brought a few more bob in.
The list below is a hard-nosed bookmaker's guess at what might happen, and is informed by insiders, who are alongside, or at least near to, what Damian Thompson calls "The Magic Circle", and so reflects what they expect and what they hope. But there is also a dash of speculation, informed or otherwise: Abbot Gilbert and Cardinal Pell should not be on this list; and there is a mixture of deep affection, support from the blogosphere (and, to be truthful, wishful thinking) in Fr Finigan's appearance. This list isn't the Nuncio's: it's a qualified version of the Nuncio's; qualified by a punting faithful prepared to put its money where its heart is, but also by Paddy's understanding - presentiment? - that things might, just might, be about to change utterly.
Those preparing for the forthcoming ad limina visit of the Hierarchy of England and Wales in Rome will not be totally unaware of some of this, in spite of the fact that the Nuncio's report, accompanying the terna, will have had a very different take on where Catholics in E&W are in 2008, and what they want. The great unknown, the key unknown, is how far HH the Pope actually cares about us here: is it as much as he cares for everybody (and for which we give great thanks); or is it, as we dare hope, a care, indeed a love, that runs deeper? Time will tell, and soon.
Rt Rev Vincent Nichols 13-8 (5-4) (2-1) (7-4) (2-1) (7-2)
Fr Timothy Radcliffe 6-1 (10-1) (6-1)
Dom Hugh Gilbert 8-1 (6-1) (4-1)
Rt Rev Kevin McDonald 8-1 (6-1) (5-1) (7-2)
Bishop William Kenney 10-1 (9-1) (8-1) (15-2) (6-1)
Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon 10-1 (8-1)
Very Rev. Fr. Ignatius Harrison 10-1
Rt Rev Alan Hopes 12-1 (10-1) (8-1) (6-1) (11-2)
Rt Rev Arthur Roche 12-1 (10-1) (12-1) (10-1) (12-1)
Fr T Finigan 16-1 (10-1)
Cardinal Pell 16-1 (12-1) (10-1)
Rt Rev Peter Smith 16-1 (12-1)
Fr Aidan Nichols 20-1 (14-1) (12-1) (11-1) (5-1) (6-1)
Bishop George Stack 20-1 (16-1)
Rt Rev Michael Evans 22-1 (20-1) (16-1)
Rt Rev Patrick Kelly 25-1 (16-1) (14-1) (12-1) (10-1) (12-1)
Fr Christopher Jamison 25-1 (20-1)
Bishop John Rawsthorne 25-1 (20-1)
Archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald 25-1 (16-1) (14-1) (12-1) (10-1) (12-1)
Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue 33-1 (20-1) (16-1)
Rt Rev Bernard Longley 33-1 (20-1) (16-1) (14-1) (12-1)
Bishop John Patrick Crowley Non-runner (33-1)
Mgr Curry 40-1