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Could New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan be the new Pope now Benedict XVI has retired? Photo by: DelMundo

Could Cardinal Timothy Dolan from New York be the first American pope?

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Could New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan be the new Pope now Benedict XVI has retired? Photo by: DelMundo

Could New York Cardinal Timothy Patrick Dolanbe the next pope? He is definitely a legitimate contender, the first American one ever, according to Vatican insiders.

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.

The oddsmakers still believe that the next pope is more likely to be African according to Paddy Power, Ireland’s leading bookmaker, who has come out with a list of “papabile,” those considered papal material.

Favorite is Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, who is 15/8 (bet eight to win fifteen), while in second place is Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana at 9/4.

That’s two top Africans in the top two spots according to the bookmaker’s odds.

Read more: Shock as Pope Benedict XVI announces intention to resign at the end of February

In third place in the odds is Archbishop Angelo Scola of Venice at 7/1 while in fourth place is Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiago of Honduras at 10/1 while Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith at 33/1 rounds out the top five.

Rinze was considered papabile in 2005 when Benedict was elected, and he now has Benedict’s old job within the Vatican, but his age is against him at 80 years old.

Cardinal Turkson is only 64, born to a Methodist mother and Catholic father, and has said that "if God would wish to see a black man also as pope, thanks be to God.” The Catholic Church chronicler Rocco Palmo called Turkson the lone Scripture scholar in the Pope's "Senate" and believes that his status as a potential "papabile" has been elevated due to his appointment as spokesman for Second Synod for Africa in 2009.

Three recent popes have come from the Venice archdiocese which makes Cardinal Scola an automatic favorite as the top Italian. Church experts say the best outsider is Cardinal Marc Ouellet from Canada who handled the recent Eucharistic Conference in Dublin.

Read more: The Catholic Church's new Pope will be African according to odds from Irish bookmaker

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