Named as New York's archbishop in 2000, Egan was in Rome during the September 11 attacks and was slow returning to his devastated flock, setting the tone for the rest of his tenure, according to Allen. "Egan had such a low profile that he was criticized for it by the left and the right," says Gibson, author of The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and His Battle with the Modern World. "They both want someone who is much more visible."
Dolan, who in Milwaukee succeeded an archbishop who'd secretly given $450,000 to silence a man who claimed to have had a sexual relationship with him, and who took a relatively public and proactive approach in dealing with the church sex abuse scandal, is expected to embrace the national platform that New York offers.
In light of President Barack Obama's recent election, some may also view the selection of the conservative Dolan as the pope's way of pushing back at American political trends. But the National Catholic Reporter's Allen says that would be a mistake. "The Vatican is the classic example of an institution that thinks in terms of centuries," he says.
Allen notes that Dolan, age 59, "can be in it for 16 years, well beyond the life span of the Obama administration." And almost certainly beyond the life span of Pope Benedict, who turns 82 this year. Which means Dolan's selection may be this pope's major legacy for the American church.