An American Pope In Our Lifetime?

Will we see in our lifetime an American prelate chosen for pope? And if so, who might it be?

Michael Potemra picks up on the speculation of vatican expert (and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine) Dr. Robert Moynihan:

Father “Jeremiah” spoke to me about a particular situation in the United States, and its relation to the future of the universal Church.

“Europe is in crisis, demographically and morally,” he said to me. “For this and other reasons, it may be time, in the not-too-distant future, for an American Pope. A possible candidate will have to have had a strong formation, perhaps in one of the traditional religious orders. . . .”

Then he looked at me intently. “It may be time,” he said, “for a cappucino.”

What Potemra misses is that this could be a veiled reference to one of the most influential religious-order Archbishops in the United States: Abp. Charles Chaput of Denver (who is a Capuchin franciscan).

The other most likely option is Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston, who is also a Capuchin franciscan. This is probably who Fr. “Jeremiah” is referring to. I confess to not knowing as much about +O’Malley as the other prelates I mention in this post. He has been warm and generous when I have met him personally but he is not without his critics when it comes to how he has ministered to the very troubled Archdiocese of Boston.

Francis Cardinal George of Chicago remains another strong American papal possible. He is a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and is the former President of the USCCB. This is most probably not who Fr. “Jeremiah” was referring to with his cappuccino reference. I am very impressed by +George’s writings, most particularly his most recent book God In Action, which I am reading now.

Back to +Chaput, the more I think about it, the more extraordinary I think it would be if he were chosen, especially since he is not a cardinal (nor would I expect him to be appointed as one any time soon). I’m not sure how long it has been since a non-cardinal was chosen for pope (anyone?).

Another likely choice from out of the American cardinal pool would be Abp. Timothy Dolan of New York (who is also not a cardinal, but for him it is only a matter of time). Especially now that he has been chosen and is serving as President of the USCCB, and appears to be doing so creatively so far.

Another possibility for an American pope would be Raymond Cardinal Burke, currently serving as the head of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome (basically the highest canon law court in the Church).

Could one of these five American prelates be chosen as the first American pope some time in our lifetime?

Come, Holy Spirit!

(I should add that, in the meantime, I remain perfectly content praying for the long life and continued good health of Pope Benedict.)



  • VLL

    Ok… this has probably been said before.

    Being in the Archdiocese of Chicago, I can tell you that Francis Cardinal George would make an excellent pope. I fear, however, that he may already be too old to be a realistic candidate. Benedict the current appears to not be going anywhere any time soon, thanks be to God.

    I’d also vote for the former bishop of St. Louis. But I’m not a cardinal,
    so my opinion is not particularly relevant.

    As for whether anyone should have an American Pope, well… let’s face it.
    Abuse, sexual or otherwise, has happened and will happen everywhere. Look to the men themselves and their conduct, and not necessarily to the spirit of the age from which they emerge. For they may have learned from it the necessary antidote through the power of Our Lord and hard experience.

    This is not to minimize the sufferings of those who have suffered and will suffer. Did the US really handle things worse than anywhere else, or were we just worse at hiding the evidence? Not sure about that. The lack of discipline among the seminaries choosing who would and would not gain the cloth happened… pretty much all over. Ok, maybe Poland and a other persecuted regions missed the detrimental effects of the Sexual Revolution… but it was nearly a culture-wide phenomenon. The best we can do is deal with the present, try to heal hearts and save souls, and make sure it doesn’t happen again to the best of our ability. Shall we end this digression?

    Personally, I just want the best man for the job, that is,
    the choice of the Holy Spirit to be honored when the time comes. To be brutally honest, we’ve been profoundly lucky in these dark times.
    Especially in the last century.
    I pray it continues, for we still yet need holy men in authority!
    While I won’t say, “now more than ever”, it is mighty tempting.

  • Matt

    I think that the Church in America is seen as too rogue and independent to have one of her own considered for Pontiff. I think we are perceived as rebels on things like birth control, same-sex relationships and the like. That may not be reality, but often perception is reality.

    If I had to choose someone, I think it would be Chaput. He really seems to get it.



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