With the stunning announcement that Pope Benedict is stepping down due to declining health issues preventing him from performing the papal duties, there is a long list of candidates emerging as to who could be the next Pope.

The news is especially shocking and intriguing because a Pope has not vacated the office for 600 years.  Dying while being the Pope is the usual norm.

I started to think to myself, "Has there ever been an American Pope, and if not, is there the possibility of one being elected by the College Of Cardinals?

Since I am not well versed on the subject, I went online to see what I could find.  There has never been an American Pope.  Why?

According to The Catholic Soapbox, 'the conventional “wisdom” is that because the US is still seen as the world’s greatest political (and military) superpower, there will be a great reluctance to have the world’s greatest religious superpower, the Pope, also hailing from the States.'  

Ok.  Is there among the candidates an American to be considered as the next Pope? According to MSN.com, there is!  'Timothy Dolan, (U.S., 62) became the voice of U.S. Catholicism after being named archbishop of New York in 2009. His humor and dynamism have impressed the Vatican, since both are often missing. But cardinals are wary of a "superpower pope," and his back-slapping style may be too American for some.'

Cardinal Dolan, since coming to New York is seen as the church's equivalent of a rock star. He appears to be well liked by people inside and outside of the church.

Again, according to The Catholic Soapbox, in an article written last March,

"Author and veteran Vatican reporter John Allen, who has consistently downplayed the hype around New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan as a possible papal contender, is now hedging his bets after seeing the overwhelmingly positive response of church leaders to the American prelate in Rome.

“I’m leaving myself some wiggle room,” said Allen, who called Dolan “the closest thing to an American papabile – papal candidate – that we have ever seen.

“We’re probably at a point in the papal elections where . . . the next pope could come from anywhere,” he said in an interview in advance of his Milwaukee appearance Tuesday. “People will be much more interested in who he is rather than what passport he holds.”

'And, just to prove that it’s not an Americo-centric sentiment, even Italian Vaticanista Andrea Tornielli thinks Dolan is emerging as papabile, and alludes to that perception that an American can’t be Pope.'

The Catholic Soapbox even went on to say this:  'After his arrival in the Big Apple and his surprising election as President of the U.S. bishops, newspapers and TV have begun to call him “the American Pope”.  Now that the Cardinals have heard him talk of evangelization during the summit that preceded the consistory, Timothy Michael Dolan would have a good chance of becoming the next Pope, if only he had not been born in the U.S.: Americans, they say, cannot be candidates because their country is already a superpower in the world, although certain past geopolitical analyses are no longer that obvious.'

In the end, Cardinal Doland remains just this: a possibility of becoming Pope.

The Catholic Soapbox and MSN contributed to this story.