There are 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide who will be waiting for the conclave, which convenes on Tuesday, to pick the next pope. I vote for St. Louis-born U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
I don't have a vote. of course, but there has never been an American Pope and I think -- of the two Americans who could be considered -- he's got the best chance. Just so you know, I am Irish Catholic born and raised and attended 16 years of Catholic schools, including one notable university in South Bend, Indiana.
The Vatican is so secretive that we have no idea who will be considered so all of this is speculation.
Dolan, 63, has been Archbishop of New York since 2009. Pope Benedict XVI made him a cardinal in 2012 and Dolan is in Rome for the conclave to elect the next Pope.
In the world of speculation, he is considered one of the top 15 contenders. And since the average American has no idea about the backgrounds or even the names of any of the contenders, I wanted you to learn about Dolan.
Most recently you may have heard that Dolan agreed to give the commencement speech at The University of Notre Dame on May 19 in South Bend.
That was before Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement so I don't know if Dolan will keep that commitment if he is elected pope but we'll cross that bridge if we come to it.
Know that Cardinal Dolan is on Twitter @CardinalDolan, has made 232 tweets, and that he has 92,479 followers and is and was only following ONE person on Twitter -- Pope Benedict XVI.
He started on Twitter May 8, 2013, months before Pope Benedict XVI.
Dolan's first tweet? "Hey everybody. It's Timothy Cardinal Tebow. I mean Dolan. I'm on Twitter. And I'm live on Town Hall on SiriusXM's The Catholic Channel 129." How's that for a sense of humor?
On Dec. 3, Dolan tweeted: "The Holy Father is now on Twitter. Welcome @Pontifex."
Dolan was born Feb. 6, 1950, in St. Louis, the oldest of five children. That makes him a Baby Boomer. His biography shows that, as a child, Dolan would set up cardboard boxes with sheets to make a play altar in the basement.
He has the credentials: He holds a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College, a license in sacred theology from Pontifical University of St. Thomas and a doctorate in church history from Catholic University of America.
He was ordained a priest on June 19, 1976, during America's Bicentennial. He is described as an upbeat, affable defender of Catholic orthodoxy, and a well-known religious figure in the United States.
He holds a job Pope John Paul II once called "archbishop of the capital of the world." His colleagues broke with protocol in 2010 and made him president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, instead of elevating the sitting vice president as expected.
And during the recent 2012 presidential election, Republicans and Democrats competed over which national political convention the cardinal would bless. Being a truly intelligent individual, he blessed both.
Now, I usually don't get what I want so I am prepared with a back-up plan, one that is already being touted by a longtime friend.
My second choice is Italian Cardinal Angelo Scola. Scola, 71, is the archbishop of Milan. He was born Nov. 7, 1941 in Malgrate, Italy, the son of a truck driver and a housewife.
He studied at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, where he earned a doctorate in philosophy. Later, he earned a doctorate in theology from University of Fribourg in Switzerland, where he did a thesis on St. Thomas Aquinas.
Besides his native Italian, Scola speaks French, English and Spanish.
Scola has commanded both the pulpits of Milan's Duomo as archbishop and Venice's St. Mark's Cathedral as patriarch, two extremely prestigious church positions that together gave the world five popes during the 20th century.
So, there's a history there and Scola was widely viewed as a papal contender when Benedict was elected eight years ago. His promotion to Milan, Italy's largest and most influential diocese, has been seen as a tipping point in making him one of the leading papal candidates.
Now before you think he is just another run-of-the-mill cardinal, know that he "is at ease quoting Jack Kerouac and Cormac McCarthy," according to reports. OK, I can relate.
Or, as my friend said, he is hoping that Scola becomes pope because then he would be Pope Scola. If you pronounce it like the Italians would, that would be "Popa Scola" and to my friend, that sounds like Pepsi Cola.
Hey, it made me smile knowing his brand of humor but my hopes are still riding on Dolan.