No American Cardinal has been elected pope, but Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George on Thursday said that’s not so far-fetched.
Of the possible Americans who might be pope, it is New York’s Timothy Dolan and Boston’s Seán Patrick O'Malley who are getting the most buzz.
George said there is not as much anti-American sentiment these days.
"It’s a much more pluralistic world," he said. "It does open up possibilities for an American pope who wouldn’t be an agent of the US government.”
Still, George notes it’s not geography that he believes is most important.
"We’re going to look at the person rather than the place," he said.
Some are critical that Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony will participate in the conclave after his poor handling of the priest sex abuse crisis. George reacts
"That’s not a decision for me to make. It’s being debated," said George. "It’s a decision he has to make himself."
George said there a number of candidates being considered for the job, including Sandri from Brazil, Scola from Italy, Oullett from Canada and Turkson from Africa.
Of the qualities George says are most important: the pope has to be at ease in a number of cultures and be a pope that people can trust. He added that time is needed to talk before the conclave. Once they enter the Sistine Chapel it is simply a place to pray and vote.
George leaves for Rome next Tuesday. He’s recently received a clean bill of health from his doctors after fighting a second round of cancer.