Will there ever be a pope from the United States?

There are numerous obstacles preventing an American from being elected to the papacy

Cardinal O’Malley at a Vatican press conference (CNS)

A lengthy excerpt from a soon-to-be-released book by America’s Vatican correspondent, Gerard O’Connell, made some waves at the weekend. Among other things, the excerpt detailed the tallies from the first round of voting in the 2013 conclave that eventually elected Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, who took the regnal name of Francis.

Titled, The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Account of the Conclave That Changed History, the book is being published by Orbis, and has an April 24th release date. It promises to be, “a fascinating behind-the-scenes account of history in the making,” and to reveal, “what actually happed inside the secret conclave.”

In the excerpt published by America last Thursday, O’Connell reports the Archbishop of Boston, Seán Patrick Cardinal O’Malley OFM Cap., garnered ten votes on the first round. It was a surprising number, especially since the conventional wisdom is that the election of a Roman Pontiff from the United States is a practical impossibility, owing to the position of the US as the world’s sole superpower, coupled with the diffuse notion that US Catholicism is thoroughly soaked in the country’s Puritan cultural groundwater.

So, the titbit of information predictably set off a round of speculation: could an American be pope, after all?

I haven’t seen an advance copy of the book, and I do not expect to — though I am looking forward to reading it — so I can’t say what O’Connell makes of his own report. Nevertheless, there are lots of reasons to believe the report is accurate, and lots of other reasons to believe the information reported means something significant, but very different from the topic of speculation.

Basically, the numbers offer a clue to a plausible explanation of the dynamics that may have yielded the result in the first round of voting in 2013.

There were eleven voting Cardinals from the United States. Assuming Cardinal O’Malley didn’t vote for himself — a reasonable assumption — the ten votes of the other US Cardinals may all have gone to O’Malley. The purpose of such an exercise would have been to telegraph to the other voting Cardinals that the red hats from the US would be voting as a bloc — and possibly that their bloc was up for grabs, and leaning toward a candidate with a profile not entirely unlike O’Malley’s.

Full story at The Catholic Herald.

Comments

  1. Very interesting. The rest of the story would have been more interesting, but we’ll never know….where did the 11 bloc votes go?

  2. I thought the Cardinals and support personnel took an oath of secrecy. So they’re like politicians– they leak.

  3. It might be possible if the cardinals, who usually elect one of their own, find an American who preaches the truth and the name of Jesus clearly, celebrates the liturgy reverently, and manifests a love for Jesus and the salvation of souls from sin and death rather than a one world utopia through world government action. Which of our American cardinals now does these things (rhetorical, not asking for a response)? And do the majority of the college of cardinals revere the same so that they might elect such a man to the papacy?

  4. Burke.

  5. Fr. John says

    Unlikely. The common wisdom in the Vatican is that the USA already has too much hegemonic power in the world, and this would simply appear to tilt the power more in favor of the West. I think we are going to see a series of Third World Popes into the near future. My guess for the next pope? He will come from Africa, Asia or even the Middle East.

  6. Fr. Richard: good qualifications — that he be a “good Catholic”. For the USA, in my humble opinion, Card. Burke is the only one who fits that description.

    Fr. John: your comments seem to show the politicization of the Vatican. Too bad it can’t follow Fr. Richard’s description. That said, Card. Sarah from Africa honorably fits the qualifications described by Fr. Richard. My role is to pray to the Holy Spirit to guide the selection of the next pope to one that is favorable to lead his flock in the teachings of the Church. (Was the Holy Spirit napping during this past conclave)??

  7. No way!

    Not Cardinal O’Malley!!!!

    O’Malley presided over the Requiem Mass for the despicable Ted Kennedy (champion of abortion).

    Just6 more evidence that the prelates are fundamentally corrupt.

  8. Mike Fiero says

    The Jesuit Fr. James Martin who can welcome and normalize the LGBT clergy and population since it has long been a reality within the RCC… it’s time for their doctrine to match their practices so that worshipers no longer have to perform mental gymnastics with their theology.

  9. Vince Ryan says

    “…the diffuse notion that US Catholicism is thoroughly soaked in the country’s Puritan cultural groundwater.” Alert: that aquafer has been empty for five decades.

  10. Grace Hill says

    Yes, and not only possible, plausible! Provided he first annihilated the abortion industry. This would garner many hours of media attn., and make of him the household name worldwide, which Lulek Wojewa was, at his election. Anything less than Complete Overthrow of the PP moneygrab of taxpayer funding, (by Eliminating Abortion) would be spitting in the wind.

  11. “coupled with the diffuse notion that US Catholicism is thoroughly soaked in the country’s Puritan cultural groundwater.”

    Let’s not flatter ourselves.

  12. “…coupled with the diffuse notion that US Catholicism is thoroughly soaked in the country’s Puritan cultural groundwater.” Long ago a Benedictine monk told me that the Roman attitude toward American Catholicism is one of mild incredulity that we Americans might actually take the Church’s teaching on sexuality seriously. He mentioned that there are special rates for clergy in Rome to have their sexual needs satisfied. I was scandalized by this but now am wondering if the quote above ties fidelity as something alien to Catholicism and more akin to Protestant fundamentalism. I just don’t know.

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