Rome – It took my coming all the way over here to believe it, but Italians are really actually into this American pope idea. Listen: The Italian cardinals aren’t exactly spilling the beans to me, but all the buzz around town is about the U.S. In particular, people want to know more about this Boston priest in a brown habit and sandals. As I was just sharing with Scot Landry on his Boston radio show, there is something compelling about the newness of an American. The ones being talked about – Cardinals Dolan and O’Malley, primarily, both have records working on reform and renewal — both having been assigned to messes, O’Malley in Boston and Dolan in Milwaukee. Dolan has the down-to-earth down. O’Malley has the added intrigue of the religious habit, such an obvious physical manifestation of what Christianity truly is: a radical call to a countercultural surrender to the will of God. Both are holy men I’ve gotten to know. What a joy to know they are serious contenders.
In the United States, a lot of the Dolan talk is like watching an episode of American Idol: He’s got the most obvious leadership gifts. But here, here I think they get it. It’s holiness. It’s no-nonsense-ness. It’s a servant’s heart of joy.
I wrote about the prospect of Cardinal Dolan for pope here.