Could New York's Cardinal Dolan be Pope?

Photo of New York Cardinal-Archbishop Timothy Dolan, circa 2009. Via Wikimedia Commons.

On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by announcing that he would resign on February 28. As the New York Times noted in a front-page story, he will be the first Pope to step down since 1415, when Gregory XII resigned to put an end to a schism in the Church.

Catholics everywhere are wondering: Who's next?

There's no clear front-runner at the moment, writes the New York Times:

Vatican lore has it that cardinals seen as front-runners in advance of the vote rarely triumph, and Vatican-watchers say there is no clear favorite among several potential contenders: Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan; Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the archbishop of Vienna; and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican’s office for bishops.

There have also been calls for a pope to be chosen from the developing world, home to half of the world’s Catholics.

But with the news from Rome still hot off the press, speculation is swirling about who the College of Cardinals might choose as the 266th Pope. Irish Central reports that Irish bookmaker Paddy Power is laying odds at 1 in 25 that New York's own Cardinal-Archbishop Timothy Dolan could make the cut:

The odds may not be great (he’s 25/1 with Paddy Power) but he is known to be deeply popular in Vatican circles and could well be a surprise choice in a conclave where there is no obvious front runner.

Dolan would be a remarkable choice. He is very popular in New York (where, like the next pope, his predecessor is still living) and he has the worldwide reach that might make him a very popular candidate.

A more likely choice, say the Irish bookmakers, would be Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria (odds: 15/8) or Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana (odds: 9/4).

For his own part, Cardinal Dolan shrugged off the idea with characteristic good humor at a news conference Monday morning, the Associated Press reports:

In replying to questions, he said it would be "highly improbable" for him to be considered for the papacy. But joking with a reporter, he asked, "Is that why you're kneeling?"