Will American Cardinal Timothy Dolan become the first American pope? This is a question that found its way into observers’ minds of late, as the Archbishop of New York, along with 21 of his fellow Catholic leaders, was elevated to cardinal in Rome on Saturday.
As The Blaze mentioned over the weekend, some Italian and American media outlets have been wondering if Dolan has, due to his charismatic nature and appealing qualities, a chance at becoming the church’s top clergy member.
“Dolan is already being touted by some Vatican experts as a possible future candidate to become the first American pope,” reported MSNBC over the weekend. And and Sunday, ABC News produced a video report exploring this very same subject:
As we noted in our previous report, Americans are traditionally not considered papal contenders. After all, the U.S. dominates in so many other areas that internationally, the notion of a “Super Power Pope” is generally frowned upon.
But it seems Pope Benedict, among other leaders, has taken a special liking to Dolan. The Huffington Post provides some background about New York’s Catholic leader and his appeal:
Dolan, ordained as a parish priest in St. Louis in 1976, held several academic positions at Catholic universities before becoming the auxiliary bishop of St. Louis in 2001. A little over a year later, he was appointed the Archbishop of Milwaukee. In 2009, he became the archbishop of New York and was elected to lead the bishops’ conference in 2010. As head of New York’s church, he oversees Catholic life in Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island and many of the city’s suburbs.
Dolan’s elevation will give New York two living cardinals who can vote for a new pope, a rarity in the Catholic church. The other is Cardinal Edward Egan, the former archbishop of New York, who was elevated in February of 2001. Egan turns 80 in April. The move by the pope to promote Dolan while his predecessor remains of voting age is a break with tradition, which church observers say shows how much the pope favors New York’s Catholic leader.
Dolan, himself, is aware that there is some papal buzz over his potential future consideration (although ABC News calls it “a long shot”). When asked about the issue on Saturday, he said, “Io non parlo inglese,” which translates to “I don’t speak English.” Clearly, he’s not interested in commenting on the matter — but that hasn’t stopped people from chattering about it.
Considering that there’s no telling how long it will be until the next pope is sought out, taking such a humble stance is probably best. While the odds are stacked against Dolan, there’s no telling what the future could hold.