NEW YORK (AP) -- Conventional wisdom holds that no one from the United States could be elected pope because the U.S. has more than enough worldly influence without an American in the seat of St. Peter.
But after Pope Benedict XVI's extraordinary abdication, church analysts are wondering whether old assumptions still apply.
The role of the United States in the world today is what weighs most heavily against an American pope. The Vatican navigates complex diplomatic relations within the Muslim world, in China over the state-backed church, in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and beyond. An American pope could be perceived as acting in the interests of the United States instead of Catholics.
Popes also are expected to be multilingual, or to at minimum speak Italian fluently. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, considered to have one of the highest profiles in the U.S. church, speaks only halting Italian and a little Spanish, but no French or Latin.