Head Of N.Y. Archdiocese, Boston Cardinal Considered Serious Contenders

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Does New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan have a serious chance at becoming pope? He usually makes a joke when asked, but a leading Italian newspaper is taking Dolan’s papal prospects seriously.

On Wednesday, the cardinal spoke about his trip to Rome for the historic resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported.

READ MORE: Police-Involved Shooting Reported In Yonkers

He sported a hard hat for a ribbon cutting at a Carmelite Sisters nursing home on Staten Island, but could Cardinal Dolan soon don the white “zucchetto” worn by the pope?

“I hate to lose him in New York, but I think, I think, he would be one of the best holy fathers. He would,” said Sister Mary Virginia.

[cbs-audio url=”http://newyork.cbslocal.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14578484/2013/02/pope-new-1-papa-w-37-soc-thamilton.mp3″ size=”340″ download=”false” name=”Dolan Heads To Rome Next Week To Vote For New Pope” artist=”1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa”]

Since Benedict XVI made Dolan a cardinal one year ago some have touted him as a potential papal successor.

Now, with Benedict leaving office next week, it’s becoming clear Dolan is a serious candidate.

The Italian paper La Repubblica reported the powerful cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is working behind the scenes to advance Dolan’s chances in the upcoming conclave.

READ MORE: 15-Year-Old Girl Struck And Killed By School Bus That Fled The Scene In Brooklyn

Cardinal Dolan was in a good mood Wednesday, but didn’t really want to answer Aiello’s question about the La Repubblica report.

“You know, listen, all the cardinals are really embarrassed to talk about that, and we’d be uncomfortable talking about it, so I’ll leave it at that,” Cardinal Dolan said.

[cbs-audio url=”http://newyork.cbslocal.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14578484/2013/02/dolan1.mp3″ size=”340″ download=”false” name=”Dolan Heads To Rome Next Week To Vote For New Pope” artist=”WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports”]

Italian papers are buzzing about another potential American pope — Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston.

“The next pope is going to have to be a serious reformer on the child sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church and, of course, O’Malley has that profile,” said John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter.

Dolan plans to be in Rome when the pope leaves office on Feb. 28. He’ll lead 10 other American cardinals in the conclave — a powerful voting contingent Vatican watchers consider second only to the Italians.

MORE NEWS: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebrated At Brooklyn Academy Of Music

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …