The Chicago area's more than 2.3 million Catholics aren't the only ones wondering who will succeed Cardinal Francis George. The Italian newspaper La Stampa on Thursday also speculated whether it might be a surprising choice.
The article by the Vatican Insider notes that Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted is a possible contender but also suggests the Pope might choose a Chicago priest who "is a favorite of the nuncio."
While no name was given, sources told NBC 5 that priest is Father Robert Barron.
Barron is the rector of the seminary at Mundelein and well-known as an author of the series Word on Fire. He's also been the go-to commentator for Vatican events for NBC News.
"That's crazy," Barron said by telephone. "I know nothing about it."
Traditionally an archbishop or bishop is selected, however Pope Francis recently selected a priest in Germany for a high-ranking post, bypassing others.
The selection process for Chicago's next Archbishop is moving forward with sources telling NBC 5 that three names have been forwarded to the Vatican. These names come after weeks of consulting hundreds of Catholics, even the Cardinal himself.
Sources say they believe the three names are Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin, Spokane's Blase Cupich and Salt Lake's John Wester. Tobin's name has often been mentioned, while the others not as often.
Cardinal George is now undergoing a new clinical trial for kidney cancer at the University of Chicago. He canceled his trip to Rome in October but now hopes to travel there in November.