FREETOWN, MASS. (WPRI)- In the long history of the Catholic church, there has never been an American Pope.
But that could soon change.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York is considered a strong candidate for the papacy. However, he's not the only American name being thrown around. Reporters in Rome are now mentioning Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley.
The 68-year-old's handling of the church's sex abuse scandal while serving as Bishop of the Diocese of Fall River has strengthened his chance of being elevated.
Eyewitness News sat down with Fr. Mike Racine of St. Bernard's Catholic Church in Assonet. Bishop O'Malley ordained Fr. Mike into the priesthood in 1995.
"He is a very wonderful celebrant. He preaches a very beautiful homily, always starts off with a little story, little Irish story, little chuckle", Fr. Mike said of O'Malley.
As cardinals from around the world prepare to enter The Sistine Chapel and select a new spiritual leader, many wonder if an American even stands a chance.
"Well, we're not the only super power anymore. We don't know what will happen once they enter the conclave. This all comes under the guidance of the Holy Spirit", Fr. Racine said.
If either Cardinals Dolan or O'Malley are elevated to the papacy, they would become the first American Pope in history.