Timothy Cardinal Dolan, 63, New York
Credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images
While the thought of an American pope has long seemed impossible, Cardinal Dolan should not be ruled out, Alvaré said.
"History is changing," she said. "We've been at this a while here in the states, [although] not anywhere as long as Europe."
Dolan, an affable cardinal well-known by Catholics in the U.S. and abroad, "has been grappling with some of the leading questions that face the church for the future," Alvaré said.
In September 2012, along with comedian Stephen Colbert, he co-led a discussion on faith and humor at Fordham University.
"If I am elected pope, which is probably the greatest gag all evening, I'll be Stephen III," he told the crowd of students.
Despite Dolan's good standing, Bunson said he has some doubts.
"It strikes me as unlikely, simply because we are the world's last superpower," he said of the U.S. "So I think that might factor in."