Other contenders for pope include cardinals Angelo Scola of Italy, Peter Turkson of Ghana, Leonardo Sandri of Argentina and Marc Ouellet of Canada.
Dolan and O’Malley differ significantly in style and personality, although eight of the 11 Americans at the conclave were made cardinals by Benedict, so they share his goal of centering Catholicism — and its parishes, schools, hospitals, and followers — firmly on orthodoxy. The others were named by Pope John Paul II, who had a similar theology but put more effort into evangelizing, particularly the young. Dolan and O’Malley grew up under John Paul.
The fresh look at U.S. clergy comes from a church that is now truly global. Cardinals no longer hide out in Italy — they travel extensively and blog. They are more familiar with one another, and so less likely to base their vote for a new pope on geography. They are also aware, particularly with the crush of news — and scandal — that has followed the Vatican in recent weeks, that now isn’t a bad time to consider new ideas.
“The cardinals understand that these are particularly challenging times for the church,” said the Rev. Jonathan Morris, program director of Sirius XM’s Catholic Channel. “And I don’t just mean the more well-known recent controversies, but just a recognition that the world is changing very quickly.”
Some said the image of a swaggering United States has shifted in the Obama era. Our economy has its own long-term problems, leading many top workers and students from overseas to look elsewhere. Fears that a U.S. pope could be swept up in promoting U.S. geopolitical interests may have less basis.
These days, the U.S. church has two things that some believe Catholicism desperately needs: frank talk and a young culture in which things that are broken tend to get fixed.
Dolan is clearly someone who relishes talking, whether he’s walking down the street to Matt Lauer’s studio for a candid interview in the minutes after the pope announced his resignation or doing a chat for college students with funnyman Colbert or in making comments last month at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan after being asked about rumors that he might be chosen pope.
“I’d say those are only from people smoking marijuana,” said Dolan, prompting the next day’s headline in the New York Post newspaper: “Pope hope is dope.”