Donna Iadipaolo

It is true. The Roman Catholic Church is not a democracy. Still, 117 Roman Catholic Cardinals will meet in the Sistine Chapel to vote and, therefore, elect a new pontiff. So in some senses, there are republican tenets to the process. If I could vote, I would select the next pope to come from America.

America, of course, was named after the Italian Renaissance explore Amerigo Vespucci. However, “America” is actually not limited to the United States of America, but also includes the other part of North American, Canada; Central America; and South America, as well.

Of course, the first choice, for many in the United States, would be that the next pope come from the U.S. Some people are speculating that the next pope could be Boston’s Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Mallley. O’Malley grew up in Western Pennsylvania, but was born in Lakewood. A great think about O’Malley is that he has been public and vocal in both criticizing and apologizing for the church sex abuse cases, which some have criticized Benedict for not being more vocal about.

In total, there are eleven U.S. cardinals who are anticipated to vote for the new pope. Other high profile Americans include Cardinal Roger Mahoney, the former Los Angeles archbishop, and Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia Emeritus.

It is often underreported that there are approximately 77.7 million registered members of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. This makes Catholicism the largest religions faith in the U.S., which makes up about 25 percent of the population. After Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines, the United States has the largest Catholic population in the world.

As far as the Canadian that is being discussed as a strong possibility, French-Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, former archbishop of Quebec City and current prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, is also considered a strong contender for Pope. Ouellet is seen as a relatively conservative in the Catholic Church.

And there is also the hope from many that the next Pope come from Latin America. Possible Latinos include Brazilian Odilo Scherer, archbishop of the massive diocese of Sao Paulo, or Argentinian Leonardo Sandri, who works in the Vatican whose parents are Italian. Latin America comprises about 40 percent of the globe’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholic

To some, then, there is a real possibility that the next Holy Father will be from the Western Hemisphere. Perhaps voicing your opinion could influence the decision.