Could the new pope be an American? - FOX 35 News Orlando

Could the new pope be an American?

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Soon, the Catholic Church will need to pick a new pope now that Pope Benedict XVI is resigning his post at the end of the month, so what are the odds that an American could replace him?

It's not a job anyone can apply for -- and it's not typically one that gets quit, but at 85 years old, Benedict said he is simply too weak to continue in the role.

In addition to leading the prayers and policy for one billion Cathoilcs across the globe, the pontiff also serves in the role of religious diplomat and has a strong influence on international relations.

Professor Massimo Faggioli is a nationally-known historian of Catholicism, and he says the announcement could be a game-changer for the church.

"We've never had this kind of situation, when the next conclave -- in a few weeks -- will elect a new pope knowing that the former pope is still alive," he explained.

Even so, Faggioli thinks it's unlikely an American cardinal would be elevated to the church's highest post since the U.S. is already widely seen as an economic and military superpower.

"In political terms, we could say that the Roman Catholic Church is the last empire. It's everywhere. It's in five continents," he said.

Benedict plans to resign at the end of February, but many Minnesota Catholics told FOX 9 News they prefer to think of it as retirement.

A Vatican spokesperson said it is likely that a new pope will be appointed by Easter.

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