CHICAGO — Fifteen years to the day that he became a prince of the Roman Catholic Church, Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George said he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a fellow American becoming pope.
During and after a lecture at Loyola University Chicago School of Law on Thursday, George said New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley and a number of other international cardinals whose names have been bandied about as contenders are indeed “plausible candidates" to lead the church.
Until now, the odds of an American pope were slim to none. According to conventional wisdom, putting a man from the world’s only superpower in charge of the world’s 1 billion Catholics would give the U.S. too much power, Vatican experts said.
“We’re not quite the hegemonic power that we were even a few years ago," George said, referring to the U.S. “It’s a much more pluralistic world. Within that, we have a very important role, but ... in the international sphere, we don’t play the role we once did. ... So it does open up possibilities for an American pope who wouldn’t be considered an agent of the U.S."