PRO: He has Roman experience in that he studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome — the seminary overlooking the Vatican where bishops send their best and brightest. In 1994, he was named to head the NAC, and spent six years there, learning Italian and making connections. Indeed, the Italians could be more inclined to vote for him than his fellow American cardinals, who might understandably view Dolan as soaking up too much of the spotlight already.
CON: For all that time in Rome, he never held a post in the Roman Curia, the centralized Vatican bureaucracy where careers are made (or broken). NCR’s Allen said that is in part why Dolan would be on the “B or C list” of papal candidates. Besides, his Italian is only passable at this point, and to run the Vatican it pays to understand every whisper.
PRO and CON: Dolan has a track record on dealing with sex abuse, and it is as contested as that of any churchman who has headed a diocese at any point in the last 30 years. That’s why the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests singled out Dolan as one of three cardinals they do not want to see become pope. The thing is, criticism from SNAP is like a badge of honor to the cardinals, many of whom could well have worse track records than Dolan.
WILD CARD: Dolan is the Chris Christie of the College of Cardinals, a plus-size prelate who likes to make jokes about his weight and penchant for pasta. But is that what tradition demands this time? Vatican wags note that the cardinals seem to alternate from thin pope to fat pope. (You can look it up: Pius IX to Leo XIII to Pius X, so it goes.) The question is whether Benedict qualifies as an ectomorph or an endomorph.
The bottom line? The Irish online betting site, Paddy Power, had Dolan at a 40-1 shot this week — the middle of the pack, which seems about right. And on the “Today” show on Monday, host Matt Lauer asked Dolan if he could vote for himself in the conclave.
‘’No,” Dolan answered. “Crazy people cannot enter the conclave.”
(Tim Townsend of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch contributed to this report).
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