The U.S. Cardinals Who’ll Vote for Pope

America has sent 11 cardinals to cast votes in the papal conclave, the most of any country but Italy.

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America has sent 11 cardinals to cast votes in the papal conclave. Chances are slim that any will become pope, but the numbers reflect the U.S. contingent's rising influence. Click for a closer look at who they are.
Justin Francis Rigali, 77, is the oldest of the 11 American cardinals. He is also one of three who took part in the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict. A priest since 1961, Rigali has worked in various positions at the Vatican, including secretary of the College of Cardinals. He was appointed Archbishop of St. Louis in 1994, and nine years later became Archbishop of Philadelphia. He resigned in 2001, as his office was reeling from a sex-abuse scandal in which prosecutors alleged he protected church interests over victims. Rigali has spent his retirement in the Diocese of Knoxville as a guest of one of his former deputies.
Roger Michael Mahony, 77, is the former archbishop of Los Angeles. He spent almost his entire priesthood in California before retiring in 2011. Nicknamed “Hollywood” by Pope John Paul II, Mahony was known for his affinity for media attention, and for taking up the cause of immigrants' rights. He is one of three American conclave participants who also took part in 2005. But Mahony has since been sullied by revelations that he helped cover up cases of clergy sex abuse. Weeks before Mahony left for Rome, his replacement stripped him of his remaining duties, although Mahony remains a cardinal in good standing. He has apologized for his mistakes, but has also defied critics’ calls to bow out of the conclave.
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William Joseph Levada, 76, was until last year the highest-ranking American at the Vatican. As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—the position that Pope Benedict held before he was named Holy Father—Levada was in charge of leveling judgment on priests accused of sexual abuse. His record—and his handling of accusations as archbishop in Portland and San Francisco—is generally considered as mixed. He took action against several priests, but also delayed action against others. Under his leadership, the San Francisco archdiocese created an independent committee to examine sex abuse cases. He recently spoke in support of embattled former Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony’s plans to vote in the conclave.
Francis Eugene George is the only American cardinal to be returning to a papal conclave while still in active office—in his case, as Archbishop of Chicago, where he has served since 1997. But at 76, the two-time cancer survivor has submitted his letter of resignation, so it won't be long before he steps down. He remains, arguably, the American cardinal with the most credibility and stature. George has said in interviews that the next pope will need to be a reformer so that he may restore trust to an office rocked by scandal. George told the National Catholic Reporter that he thinks the conclave will begin with a field of 10 or 12 leading candidates.
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Sean Patrick O'Malley, 68, is archbishop of Boston. If any of the American cardinals can be seen as a reformer, it is O'Malley, who took over the Boston diocese in 2003, replacing Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned amid a clergy sex-abuse scandal. O’Malley has reportedly said that the next pope must take a tougher line on disciplining leaders who protect abusive priests. A fluent Spanish speaker who once worked with Latino immigrants in Washington D.C., O'Malley has become something of a popular cause among Italian reporters who want to see the Vatican's old guard overturned. For his part, O'Malley has downplayed speculation of a long-shot bid, reportedly telling worshipers he'd be back in Boston soon. Before taking over the Boston diocese, O'Malley served in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, Fall River, Mass. and Palm Beach, Fla.
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Edwin Frederick O'Brien, 73, is perhaps the most peripatetic of the American cardinals. Born and raised in the Bronx, he served as a civilian Army chaplain in Vietnam, traveling by helicopter among jungle outposts to minister to the troops. He studied in Rome, returned to New York, served as globe-trotting archbishop of the U.S. military, and then as archbishop of Baltimore. He was then summoned to Israel to run the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, where he remains the pope's representative to Catholics and top fundraiser for the church's historic sites there. It's a diplomatically sensitive position, and O'Brien has carried out his duties without significant controversy. Pope Benedict made him a cardinal last year.
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Donald William Wuerl, the 72-year-old archbishop of Washington D.C., has been mentioned as having a shot at being named the next pope, but the odds are very long, and Wuerl himself has dismissed the idea of an American pontiff. The reason, he says, is that the pope has a duty to "remind" governments about their commitment to peace, and in that context an American pope wouldn't be viewed favorably. Wuerl, who grew up in and served as archbishop of Pittsburgh, was among the first American Catholic leaders to take a zero-tolerance stand against priests accused of sex abuse, and although critics accuse him of covering up certain cases, Wuerl is widely viewed has being on the right side of the issue.
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Raymond Leo Burke, 64, is the American cardinal with the most direct influence in the Vatican and the most popular among most conservative Catholics. He heads the Apostolic Signatura, the church's highest court. He is also one of the most controversially outspoken church leaders, given his public comments on abortion, women's rights, gay rights and politics. Popular on the conservative speaking circuit, Burke in 2008 declared that President Barack Obama and the Democratic party "risks transforming itself definitively into a 'party of death'." His appointment to the Vatican post was preceded by his service as archbishop of St. Louis, where he argued that Catholic politicians who supported abortion rights should be denied communion. A Wisconsin native, Berke led the La Crosse diocese before moving to St. Louis. He became a cardinal in 2010.
Daniel Nicholas DiNardo, 63, is archbishop of Galveston-Houston and the first cardinal from the southern United States. A former bishop of Sioux City, DiNardo has some Vatican experience to draw from; he worked in the Congregation for Bishops in the mid- to late-1980s. In a recent interview with the National Catholic Reporter, DiNardo said one of the top priorities in choosing a pope will be how well the candidates handle internal business and governance issues. “The church’s house has to be in pretty good order to make sure that your message is being heard, and that you’re not stumbling,” DiNardo said. “We’ve had some distractions lately, and we don’t need all those distractions.” DiNardo has also expressed interested in the possibility of a pope coming from Africa or South America as a sign of Catholicism's rise in developing parts of the world.
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James Michael Harvey, 63, is a career Vatican employee, having served three decades at the church's headquarters in positions that kept him in daily contact with each of the last two popes, John Paul and Benedict. A Milwaukee native, Harvey became a cardinal late last year, and in the hierarchy of cardinals who'll vote in the papal conclave, he is last. His most recent Vatican job was as prefect of the papal household, in which he arranged the pontiff's daily meetings, greeted visiting heads of state, and coordinated with the pope's personal secretary and other residential staff members. In that role, Harvey was direct superior of the pope's former butler, Paolo Gabriele, who went to prison for stealing the pope's private papers and leaking them to a reporter—one of history's most notorious Vatican thefts. Harvey has since been transferred across town to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, as archpriest, but the Vatican said the move was not related to the theft.
Timothy Michael Dolan, charming, media friendly and head of the nation's second-largest archdiocese is probably the best-known American cardinal. As New York’s archbishop, Dolan, 62, is constantly in the public spotlight, and seems more comfortable and garrulous the brighter it shines. Despite having only been made a cardinal in February 2012, Dolan is considered a long-shot candidate to become pope; just before the start of the papal conclave, he showed up for Mass and was treated like a film star. A St. Louis native, Dolan arrived in New York in 2009 from Milwaukee, where he ran an archdiocese that has since become mired in various legal troubles, primarily regarding the allegations of sex abuse by priests. Some victims accuse Dolan of delaying discipline against accused clergy, but Dolan’s supporters point out that in 2004 he publicly released the priests’ names. Just before leaving New York for Rome, Dolan answered questions about his time in Milwaukee in a deposition for lawyers involved in the legal fight.
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