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Could Lakewood Native Become Next Pope?

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LAKEWOOD, Ohio -- This time next week Pope Benedict will officially step down as the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

While the world waits to see who will succeed him, there is some talk the next pope could be from Northeast Ohio.

Cardinal Archbishop Sean Patrick O'Malley, 68, is the boy from Lakewood who now heads the Archdiocese of Boston.

Susan Mapstone of Lakewood is among those wondering if he could be the next pope.

"I just know that he is from the Lakewood area, and as a lifelong resident, I think it's awesome,” she said.

The son of Theodore and Mary Louise O’Malley was baptized into St. Luke Catholic Parish in Lakewood in the summer of 1944.

He briefly attended St. Luke Catholic School until his family moved to Pennsylvania.

Longtime St. Luke parishioner Vivian Fox met Cardinal O’Malley when he presided at the ordination of a Cleveland area priest in 2001.

“He has a lot of charm and know how, I think.  I'm sure he is a brilliant man.  You don't get to be a bishop without being really smart."

Cardinal O’Malley knows a number of languages and that might help his chance of becoming the next pope.

He even spoke of the possibility at a recent news conference in Boston last week.

"I grew up in a world where we thought that being Italian was a prerequisite and then all of a sudden we had a Polish pope, and then a German pope, which was an even greater surprise.  So, obviously there are infinite possibilities,” he said.

Cardinal O’Malley is now in Rome awaiting Pope Benedict’s resignation.

He and other cardinals from around the world will then gather and select the next pope.

"I think it would be wonderful if he would become the pope,” Mapstone said.

Fox agreed.

"It would be a wonderful, wonderful thing for our town and our parish if Bishop O’Malley were the one,” she said.

There has never been an American as pope.

In fact, John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 400 years.