Will the next Pope be an American?
Ed Morrissey, who is covering the upcoming conclave of cardinals who will choose the next Pope, thinks that one or two Americans may get a serious look.
The new Pope won't be changing church doctrine - in fact, that's impossible for any pontiff, who becomes the guardian of doctrine - but the Catholic Church wants to change the way in which it communicates the teachings so as to be effective in the 21st century. Dolan has certainly demonstrated an ability to get past what George Weigel describes as the old right/left paradigm and represent Catholic Christianity to a broad spectrum of people.
Cardinal Dolan isn't the American getting the most buzz here, however. It's one thing for the New York Times to notice an Archbishop of New York; it's quite another for Corriere della Sera to notice the Archbishop of Boston, Sean O'Malley. The quiet, humble, and accomplished reformer has drawn more attention here than perhaps anyone would have predicted. Veteran Vatican reporter John Allen reports on the focus (via Deacon Greg):
If the readers of Italy's paper of record, Corriere della Sera, had any say in the matter, the choice for the next pope would be clear: Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston.
Ed is doing a terrific job giving both hard analysis and some really good atmosphere pieces on what's it like in Rome on the eve of choosing a new pope. Make sure you follow his dispatches every day.
Both Dolan and O'Malley are considered "conservative" (if that designation truly has any meaning in the Catholic Church heirarchy) for the American church and that's the problem. American bishops have butted heads with the Vatican over a number of issues, mainly with regard to having more independence from Rome. While Ed is no doubt correct about increased attention, some of that is certainly the papal press and their appetite for novelty.
That's not to say it's impossible for an American to sit on the throne of St. Peter. But it would probably take a deadlocked conclave for an American to emerge as a compromise candidate for that to happen.